The Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t afraid to play dirty in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns, delivering several illegal shots that were flagged for personal fouls. Perhaps the play that was most talked about is the one that was not flagged.
Ben Roethlisberger’s Ankle Lock
After QB Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception in the fourth quarter to S Derrick Kindred, the second-year safety began trying to return the ball. DE Emmanuel Ogbah promptly turned toward Roethlisberger and gave him a light block, and the veteran quarterback then flopped to the ground. Then, Roethlisberger latched on to Ogbah’s ankle.
Ladies & gentleman I present to you... Ben Roethlisberger pic.twitter.com/8sdAm7JVMD— ben. (@benhomme_) September 10, 2017
The official appeared to come in and basically tell them to cut it out. On Twitter, Steelers WR Antonio Brown shared the video and (crying with laughter) tweeted, “Hey, that’s my quarterback!” Browns DT Danny Shelton fired back at Brown, sarcastically applauding the NFL for going overboard to protect quarterbacks, but not the other way around.
When head coach Hue Jackson was asked on Monday whether he thinks Roethlisberger should be fined, he laughed it off. “No (laughter). He is a tough guy. He wanted to go make the tackle. That is just Ben. No, I don’t think so.”
Well, Hue, I think I have just the punishment for Big Ben.
Ryan Shazier’s Hit on a Sliding Kizer
Next up, we have QB DeShone Kizer taking off and sliding, only for LB Ryan Shazier to lead with the crown of his helmet and plant him. Fortunately, Kizer moved his shoulder to the side to avoid getting concussed in his first NFL game, but this is a big no-no.
Let's post it again since Steelers fan deleted ... I'm sure Steelers fans are defending Ryan Shazier for this cheap shot pic.twitter.com/Jx72TfkqKI— Busted Coverage (@bustedcoverage) September 10, 2017
Former head of officiating Dean Blandino said this about the play: “Hitting Kizer with his helmet on a sliding runner [is a big no-no]. Shazier is lowering his head and spearing the quarterback. It will probably lead to a fine later in the week.”
William Gay Launched Into Ricardo Louis
Steelers veteran nickelback William Gay launched his entire helmet square into the head of WR Ricardo Louis when he was in a defenseless position.
William Gay with a shot on Ricardo Louis... pic.twitter.com/8PaHDrQVNG— Football Is Life (@ItsTheFBLife) September 10, 2017
Fortunately, Louis was evaluated for a concussion, cleared to return, and made a nice catch over the middle. Blandino says: “Louis was in a defenseless posture. He’s attempting to catch the pass ... you can't go to the head/neck area. Shoulder to the head, that's going to be a foul. That is the type of hit that will lead to a fine for the most part.”
Watt With the Late Spear on Kizer
Perhaps the dumbest hit by the Steelers, because it negated a sack and probably ultimately did not inflict much harm, is this semi-late hit by OLB T.J. Watt to QB DeShone Kizer.
Some may look at that and ask, “Oh, come on, isn’t it ticky tack to call that?” The answer is no, because the NFL is trying to discourage any late piling hits into any pile. This was a free shot at Kizer; harmful or not, the officials can’t just say, “lol, OK, we’ll let you get away with it.”
J.J. Wilcox’ Hit on Corey Coleman’s TD
Lastly, we have this hit by DB J.J. Wilcox when WR Corey Coleman caught his late touchdown pass. While I agree that this play should have been flagged (and was), this was the only one where I believe the defender was just trying to knock the ball loose with a hard hit, and sometimes, illegal collisions like that just happen.
Will Pittsburgh Face Fines?
Typically, fines are not announced in the NFL until later in the week, but Blandino said the process begins right away. They look at a lot of plays: “Not every personal foul gets a fine, and not every fine gets a personal foul.”
Which plays do you think Pittsburgh should be fined for?