The NFL is a brutal sport at the best of times, but holy shit is this ever something else. The New England Patriots are playing out the remainder of today’s Super Bowl a man down, after receiver Brandin Cooks left the game following a hit from which one can only react with “damn.”

Cooks took a second quarter pass from Tom Brady and found himself surrounded by Philadelphia Eagles defenders, caught in veritable no-man’s land.

But while he managed to clock three defenders around him, it was the fourth, Malcolm Jenkins, who spread him across the deck like a tub of margarine.

Brace yourselves. This is a hit.

Sweet merciful crap, OUCH.

The hit caught the attention of social media, who provided both jokes and genuine concern for his health and well-being in equal measure.

It’s a very serious hit, and with the NFL currently enduring constant criticism about how they protect players and the effects of long-term head injuries, it’s obviously cause for concern. Leading chronic traumatic encephalopathy researcher Christopher Nowinski pointed out as much in a telling tweet.

Luckily, Cooks managed to stand up and walk off the field under his own steam, but he was summarily ruled out of the remainder of the game after being assessed by team doctors.

The Eagles hold a 22-12 lead over New England at half time.

Image: Getty Images / Hannah Foslein