On the 67-yard punt return for a touchdown by Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown late in the first quarter of the Sunday night game against the Cincinnati Bengals, rookie linebacker Terence Garvin absolutely destroyed punter Kevin Huber as he was closing in on a tackle attempt. Huber fractured his jaw on the play and did not return. After the game, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked if he thought the hit fell under the “Hines Ward” rule.
“I did not see it,” said Tomlin. “Obviously, it did not because I’m sure the guy that hit him was facing the end zone to which we working. That other rule does not apply to those circumstances.”
In March of 2009, the league passed a blocking rule that makes it illegal to blindside block if it comes from the blocker’s helmet, forearm or shoulder and lands to the head or neck area of the defender as a result of the block made by Hines Ward during the 2008 season that broke the jaw of then-Bengals rookie linebacker Keith Rivers.
Garvin was squared up with Huber when he blocked him, so it’s not like he blindsided him. However, being as his helmet initially made contact with Huber right under at the neck and jaw area, you can bet that Garvin will more than likely be fined this coming week.
Had Garvin lowered his target area, Garvin would more than likely be in the clear. We shall see what the league has to say about this.