Share This Page

Big special teams hit could cost Steelers linebacker

| Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, 10:18 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers’ Terence Garvin (left) prepares to block Bengals punter Kevin Huber (10), who fractured his jaw on the play Sunday on Heinz Field. Huber will miss the rest of the season because of the injury. Garvin wasn’t penalized for the hit, but the NFL might choose to fine him.

The hit that Steelers linebacker Terence Garvin put on unsuspecting Bengals punter Kevin Huber not only was punishing, it was season-ending.

Huber will miss the rest of the season with a fractured jaw that requires surgery, and the Bengals began searching Monday for a replacement punter. Huber remained overnight in Pittsburgh getting treatment following the Steelers' 30-20 victory on Sunday night.

The question is whether Garvin will take a different kind of hit in the form of a major fine from the NFL.

Garvin was not penalized by referee Ed Hochuli's crew for running over Huber as the punter closed in to try to make a tackle during Antonio Brown's 67-yard punt return touchdown. Huber was looking in a different direction and apparently did not see Garvin coming.

“I just (saw) a white shirt ...I was just trying to throw a block to spring AB,” Garvin said. “I thought I hit him in his chest; I was aiming for his chest. ... I didn't feel it, but I'm sure he felt it a little bit. It was a pretty good hit; I felt I got all of him, for the most part.”

The hit did not appear to violate the so-called Hines Ward rule that prohibits crackback blocks, like that blindside hit thrown by the former Steelers wide receivers on Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers in 2008. Rivers' jaw also was broken.

However, NFL punters and kickers are defined under league rules as defenseless players at all times. Such a designation means they can't be hit anywhere in the head or neck area by a helmet, shoulder or forearm.

The rule applies even when a punter tries to get in on a play, as Huber was attempting to do to prevent the first punt return touchdown against the Bengals since Brown's 60-yarder against them two seasons ago.

The NFL rule states: “It is a foul if a player initiates unnecessary contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture. Players in a defenseless posture are: 6) A kicker/punter during the kick or during the return.”

A penalty on Garvin would have wiped out Brown's return.

Despite that ban, Garvin's friend, Steelers linebacker Vince WIlliams, posted the following comment on Twitter a few hours after the game ended:

“Ps, if you're standing on a football field AND you're wearing a helmet AND you're trying to a make a tackle, you might get blocked lol.” He posted several follow-up tweets: “First rule of football, keep your head on a swivel” and “Injuries are not funny and I hope he comes out alright. Big hits are just apart of football it's been that way since well forever.”

Steelers players were off Monday and Garvin was not available for further comment.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.