Pittsburgh Steelers safety Damontae Kazee will have lots of time to think about the hit he put on Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. that knocked Pittman out of the game with a concussion.
The veteran with five previous unnecessary roughness calls against him this year has been suspended for the rest of the season, according to WXIN-TV. If the Steelers make it to the postseason, Kazee would miss those games as well.
The NFL said Kazee’s suspension was due to his “repeated violations of playing rules intended to protect the health and safety of players.’’
NFL suspended Steelers safety Damontae Kazee for remainder of season/postseason for ‘repeated violations.’ pic.twitter.com/lKVu5ayAHy
— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) December 18, 2023
The hit took place in the second quarter of the Steelers’ 30-13 loss to the Colts. Pittman dove for a pass and caught it. As he did, Kazee lined him up and delivered a helmet-first hit that knocked Pittman’s head back and left him groggy for several minutes afterward.
Kazee was ejected from the game after an unnecessary roughness penalty. Pittman was later ruled to have suffered a concussion.
Jon Runyan, the NFL’s vice president of football operations, explained in a letter to Kazee why has was being banned for the season.
“With 8:49 remaining in the 2nd quarter, you were involved in a play that the League considers a serious violation of the playing rules. The video of the play shows that you delivered a forcible blow to the head/neck area of Colts’ receiver Michael Pittman Jr., who was in a defenseless posture,” Runyan wrote.
— JPAFootball (@jasrifootball) December 18, 2023
“You had an unobstructed path to your opponent and the illegal contact could have been avoided. Your actions were flagrant, and as a result, you were disqualified from the game,” the letter said.
“When players violate the rules intended to protect player safety on a repeated basis, and particularly when the violations carry with them a significant risk of injury to an opposing player, it is appropriate to impose substantially greater penalties,” the letter said.
Colts coach Shane Steichen said the hit by Kazee “probably shouldn’t happen. He led with the crown of his helmet and you never want to see that, you know what I mean?”
“Do those happen in football sometimes? Yeah, but it was . . . you don’t want to see it. That’s all I’ll say,” he said.
NFL legend and former quarterback Tom Brady had his own opinion.
“Nobody likes seeing players get hurt. But hard hits happen. QBs should not be throwing the ball in areas where they are exposing their own teammates to these types of hits. Coaches need to coach better, QBs needs to read coverages and throw the ball to the right places and defenders should aim for the right hitting areas,” Brady wrote on the Sports Center Instagram page.
“To put the blame on the defense player all the time is just flat out wrong. Need better QB play!! It’s not OK QBs to get your WRs hit because of your bad decisions!” he wrote.
In a post on X, Mike Mitchell, the Colts’ assistant secondary coach for the Colts and a former Steelers defensive back said the ruling was troubling.
“I don’t know what to tell my safeties anymore. I guess just let them catch it. If I were a WR I would dive for every catch. That would ensure no contact and a completed pass. Playing deep safety in today’s nfl where rules are made mostly by people who’ve never played is tough,” he wrote.
I don’t know what to tell my safeties anymore. I guess just let them catch it. If I were a WR I would dive for every catch. That would ensure no contact and a completed pass. Playing deep safety in today’s nfl where rules are made mostly by people who’ve never played is tough.
— Mike Mitchell (@iammikemitchell) December 18, 2023
Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin said Kazee’s ejection came from “New York,” according to ESPN.
“Usually I talk about lowering the target,” Tomlin said. “The target was low and both guys were going. It was just unfortunate. I know he is not a dirty player. He doesn’t aspire to do some of the things that came to light under those circumstances.”
“Sometimes it’s just professional football today, and how difficult it is to operate, but the National Football League is really clear, man. They put a hundred percent of the onus on the defender in those circumstances. It’s unfortunate, but we understand it,” he said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.