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Intentional Grounding: 'Hey, No Pressure, No Penalty'

In Sunday's game between the Denver Broncos and the Minnesota Vikings, Christian Ponder threw the ball to the sideline while in the pocket. There was no receiver in the vicinity. Intentional grounding, right?

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Not so fast. As the referee explained, Ponder, though he was in the pocket, was not under pressure. Therefore he could not be called for intentional grounding. What!? That seems exactly like something that should be flagged for intentional grounding. If a quarterback is under pressure while in the pocket, surely he wants to get rid of the ball as fast as he can to any place that he can. Sure, flag that.

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But when he's not under pressure and in the pocket, it sure would seem like that should be a flag as well. If there were no pressure, he could clearly still make some sort of play by waiting for a receiver to become open or to run the ball.

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Oh well, the Broncos still won the game.

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