Earl Thomas faces fine, but likely no suspension, for hit on Steelers QB Mason Rudolph
The flag was thrown late — about four minutes after the fact — following Earl Thomas’ hit that knocked Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph from the game Sunday at Heinz Field.
Thomas was penalized 15 yards for roughing the passer after the Baltimore Ravens safety’s helmet connected with Rudolph’s chin midway through the third quarter of the Steelers’ 26-23 overtime loss.
Will NFL justice also be slow in forthcoming?
Thomas undoubtedly will be fined for the shot that sent Rudolph to the hospital for observation. The NFL typically releases fines on Saturday, but some higher-profile punishments become public much sooner.
Thomas also could be suspended for the hit, although he doesn’t have the track record of a serial violator such as Vontaze Burfict. An NFL Network report Monday indicated that Thomas will not be suspended.
#Ravens S Earl Thomas isn’t expected to be suspended for the hit that knocked out #Steelers QB Mason Rudolph yesterday, I’m told. The play will be reviewed for a possible fine. Not a surprise given the play was reviewed and Thomas was flagged, but not ejected.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) October 7, 2019
The 30-year-old safety, who spent his first nine seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, has been fined four times for $60,178 since entering the NFL in 2010, according to salary-tracking website Spotrac.com. Thomas was fined $15,000 in 2012 for a hit to the head on Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. In 2017, Thomas was docked $24,309 for a late hit on Atlanta Falcons tight end Levine Toilolo. The other two infractions were for taunting and unsportsmanlike conduct, respectively, the latter occurring last year when he thrust a middle finger toward the Seattle bench while being carted off the field with a leg injury.
Thomas told reporters after the game Sunday that his hit on Rudolph wasn’t intentional.
“I was just getting to the ball, trying to make a play for my team,” Thomas said. “I hit the strike zone, like we talk about. I didn’t go high. I didn’t try to intentionally hurt him. I’m worried about him. I heard he’s at the hospital. My prayers go out to him and his family, but I’m never trying to hurt anybody. At the end of the day, guys have families. I was just trying to fly to the ball like we normally do.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh also didn’t believe the hit was dirty.
“From what I saw, Earl is closing,” Harbaugh said. “Mason is going forward, he comes forward. (Thomas) is going to make the tackle and gets him right in the chin, kind of like a boxing deal. I’m absolutely certain he wasn’t trying to hit him in the head. It’s fast and he’s closing and Mason’s running so he’s not going down. He’s throwing the ball.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .