New York Giants’ safety Nat “The Missile” Berhe, earned his nickname with a punishing hit on Dallas Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliot.
Nat Berhe is a man possessed out on the gridiron. On a third and inches play, the New York Giants’ safety went all out to try to prevent a Dallas Cowboy’s first down.
The Nat Berhe BANG BANG. pic.twitter.com/yza15GvIRF
— RegularSZN Ethan (@EthanGSN) September 11, 2016
As running back Ezekiel Elliot took the handoff from Dak Prescott, Berhe met him with a head of steam right near the line of scrimmage. Elliot would pick up the first down on that play, but the big hit sent a message.
The September 11th matchup against Dallas was Berhe’s first career NFL start and he certainly displayed he belongs in this league. Elliot may have been the direct recipient of the hit, but the whole league should take notice.
Berhe is a forced to be reckoned with. Teams looking to pass the football across the middle of the field should be weary of the young safety.
Consequently, Berhe received some backlash from the play as well. Cowboys’ head coach Jason Garrett wanted a flag thrown on Berhe for what he thought was helmet to helmet contact during the play. Meanwhile, many Dallas fans were under the impression the play was a cheap shot on Elliot.
Berhe responded to the allegations via his Twitter account.
Let me make one thing clear, never in my life have I targeted another man, that's cowardly. I just attack, if you don't like it…oh well.
— Natnael Berhe (@NatBerhe) September 12, 2016
First of all, the play looked clean from the replay. It appears Berhe went chest on chest with Elliot, using his acceleration to drive him into the ground. Furthermore, Elliot was still very much an active ball carrier, was still moving his feet forward, hadn’t been completely tangled up yet, and the play was not blown dead.
The NFL is a violent league. Berhe acted well within the rules to bring down the ball carrier. To think otherwise is grasping at straws.