Denver Broncos linebacker Jonathon Cooper was hit with a very questionable taunting penalty on Monday night in Seattle.
Cooper, in the second quarter of their matchup with the Seahawks, completely shut down Dee Eskridge at the line of scrimmage after a short pass attempt. Eskridge tried to get through him, but Cooper wasn’t having it.
As the two stood up after the play, though, Cooper hovered over Eskridge briefly while seemingly trying to find his footing — which prompted the official behind him to instantly throw a flag and hit him with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Jonathan Cooper gets a taunting penalty after the takedown 👀pic.twitter.com/7hVIw5ZmN1
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) September 13, 2022
While that may technically fall under the NFL’s taunting definition, it was very brief, if at all. And, after stuffing Eskridge at the line of scrimmage, it’s easy to see why Cooper would be excited.
Taunting calls have been a point of emphasis for the league in recent seasons. Officials threw 61 flags for taunting in 2021, which is the most seen in at least two decades, according to ESPN. That was something the NFL opted to carry into this season, too.
"We have to stand on sportsmanship," NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said after league meetings in March, per ESPN. "That was universally in agreement ... But there are areas we need to clean up."
Cooper’s play, it seems, falls into that category.
The Seahawks edged out the Broncos 17-16 for the win to spoil Russell Wilson's homecoming in Seattle. Cooper didn't have a second tackle, and that marked Eskridge's only catch on the night.