Somehow and for some unknown reason, the Pittsburgh Steelers just seem to get away with these types of things. Though most outside of the Cincinnati Bengals and Cincy Jungle bubbles called Bengals fans "homers" and "biased", there now is an official confirmation on the illegality of the hit on Kevin Huber. You know, the one that broke his jaw, cracked a vertebrae and is causing him to undergo surgery?
Dean Blandino, the NFL's Vice President of officiating, appeared on the daily NFL Network show, "Total Access", and explained that Terence Garvin's hit on Huber was indeed an illegal one.
"Huber, he's a punter. And the key is he's defenseless throughout the down," Blandino said Tuesday on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access." "So even though he's pursuing the play, he still gets defenseless-player protection. You can't hit him in the head or neck, and you can't use the crown or forehead parts of the helmet to the body."
"This is an illegal block. It should have been a flag for a 15-yard penalty," Blandino went on. "You'll see the close up where you can see the contact to the head or neck area. So this will certainly be a point of emphasis this week, especially with our referees who are responsible for the punter on plays like this.
"We have to watch the punter, he's defenseless. And we want to flag hits like that."
This is where the anger from Bengals fans could and should set in. Not only was a Bengals player injured for the rest of the year as well as a flag not being thrown, but the play itself resulted in a Pittsburgh touchdown which ultimately put the game out of reach. We made our case about the play on Monday and now the league has officially backed it as an illegal one.
One ray of sunshine from this news is that this may prevent Huber and other punters from having this type of thing happen again in the future. After all, the Steelers tend to set precedents for new league rules. Who can forget the Hines Ward rule that came into effect in 2009 after another
dirty vicious block hurt a Bengals player? Or the prohibition of diving at a quarterbacks knees thanks to an injury to Carson Palmer in a playoff game against the Steelers (and one to Tom Brady when his knee was ripped by Bernard Pollard when he was with the Chiefs)?
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that he expects Garvin to be fined for the play and Blandino's stance on the play all but ensures that.