The NFL is gradually trying to make the game less dangerous. Football will always be a violent sport but the changes to date should make a difference. It is against the rules to spear or hit a runner when he is down. A simple touch is all that is required. It makes no difference whether he slips and falls on his own or is down by contact.
Let’s go back to the NFC Title game in 2003 at Lincoln Financial Field vs. the Carolina Panthers. I will never forget the cruel hit from Greg Favors on a prostrate Donovan McNabb. The replay showed that Favors made no effort to slow down. Quite the contrary, he dove into McNabb breaking his ribs. That should been a half the distance penalty, a fine, and an ejection. The Eagles did virtually nothing after that play and lost 14 to 3.
Six years later in 2009 at Carolina McNabb ran for a touchdown. A Carolina player speared Donovan McNabb who was flat on his face. As I recall Donovan missed two games from bruised ribs. Officials cannot ignore plays like this in the name of “letting them play.” Rules are not made to be broken.