Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison will almost certainly get fined for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy in the 4th quarter of the Thursday night game at Heinz Field. McCoy was scrambling outside the pocket and threw the ball on the run just before he passed the line of scrimmage. The video and animated gif below shows that Harrison hit McCoy right in the face mask after the ball left the hand of McCoy and after he completed his throwing motion. The hit jarred the head back of McCoy and knocked him clear off his feet. Harrison said he was penalized for unnecessary roughness on the play and not a helmet-to-helmet hit.
Harrison said after the game, “From what I understand once the quarterback leaves the pocket he’s a runner. All the liberties a quarterback has in the pocket are gone. You can tackle him just as if he’s a running back. The hit wasn’t late so I really don’t understand why it was called.” Unfortunately for Harrison the league office and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will likely disagree with him and not only could Harrison be fined, he could face a game suspension as a repeat offender.
Harrison has not been fined thus far this season, but that will not likely play into any decision the league makes. Harrison was fined $100,000 for a series of hits last season.
Here is a link to the video replay of the hit and below is the animated gif.