Blog Entry

Elway says Harrison's low hit on Decker not dirty

Posted on: January 10, 2012 12:11 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 2:47 pm
Some players might argue that the rules change led to Decker's knee injury. (US PRESSWIRE/AP)

By Ryan Wilson

On the first play of the second quarter of Sunday's Steelers-Broncos game, Tim Tebow completed a 21-yard pass to then-favorite target Eric Decker. It was a nice throw, and an easy catch for Decker right up to the moment when Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison tackled him low, collapsing Decker's knee in the process.

The Denver wide receiver ended up on the turf writhing in pain. He was helped off the field and didn't return. Literally adding insult to injury: the Steelers challenged the call, which was overturned to an incompletion. Of course, a play later, Tebow threw the first of many 30-plus-yard passes to Damaryius Thomas, and two plays after that, Denver led 7-6.

The hit by Harrison -- which is perfectly legal in the eyes of the league -- was the realization of fears many players voiced after NFL rules prohibited hitting players high. The players' thinking: it's a lot easier to come back from a high-impact collision when it doesn't involve torn knee ligaments or broken legs.

Broncos vice president of football operations John Elway knows this, and he doesn't think that Harrison's intentions were dirty. It's just the nature of today's NFL. (And we discussed it on Tuesday's Pick-6 Podcast embedded below for your listening pleasure)

"The (tackling) target is now lower," Elway said on his weekly Denver radio show on 102.3 FM Monday night according to The Huddle.

"Harrison yesterday, because of the fact that he's been fined so often, really had no other option. ... I don't think he intended to hurt Eric. But obviously because of the situations he's been in, he had to go low and stay away from the head. And it ended up costing an MCL sprain for Eric."

It's the unintended consequences of actions not thought through entirely. Yes, the NFL should thrive for making the game as safe as possible, but drastic changes don't come without ramifications. And the league can't argue that knee injuries were unforeseen because players lamented the possibly as soon as the new rules were announced.

The NFL could point out, however, that the prevalence of knee injuries haven't increased in light of the rules changes. (We write this anecdotally; Decker is the first time we remember a player suffering a below-the-waist injury on a play that, in previous seasons, might've resulted in a hit to the shoulders or head area.) The NFL could also show that even chronic offenders can change the way they play.

Harrison was suspended in Week 15 for taking off Colt McCoy's head in the previous game. At the time, Harrison said "I don't know. I guess try and be more aware about the placement of my face mask. I don't know how you tackle someone and not use any part of your head, especially if you're trying to see what you're hitting. I mean, your face mask is going to touch them."

And now the league has what it wants. It's just that, depending on player backlash, they might not want it very long.

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Since: Jan 6, 2012
Posted on: January 10, 2012 7:23 pm

Elway says Harrison's low hit on Decker not dirty

If the NFL determines that this Harrison hit was illegal, then I'd suggest we just tie flag belts around all the players, ban any and all contact and just play flag football. I agree with the need to do as much as possible to protect players, but the defense has to be allowed to hit some part of body to make a tackle.  Footback is a game of fast action and split second decisions. Ya gotta let the defense play defense play defense ...right? With no Defense and unlimited offense, the game is DULL. Let them play! Let them play! 

Since: Oct 29, 2011
Posted on: January 10, 2012 7:01 pm

Elway says Harrison's low hit on Decker not dirty

Can't believe that any harrison hits are not intended to injure.

Since: Oct 13, 2011
Posted on: January 10, 2012 6:38 pm

Elway says Harrison's low hit on Decker not dirty

These rules only apply to Suh and Harrison.

Since: Sep 17, 2009
Posted on: January 10, 2012 5:53 pm

Elway says Harrison's low hit on Decker not dirty

Ok so now what NFL?  Gonna make a strike zone on a player that they can get hit in...from mid thigh to the bottom of the rib cage....any hits anywhere else will result in an instant touchdown and the player making the hit will be drug behind the injury cart around the field and then kicked out of the NFL for life and denied any food?    For every action there is a positive and negative reaction...

Since: Aug 29, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 5:36 pm

Elway says Harrison's low hit on Decker not dirty

Wonderin' where the Lions are, wonderin' where the Lions are.....

Yep - THAT is our QB!! At least he won't be making some criminal defense attorney a millionaire this off-season, which is what the Lions players will be doing. Nap away.

Since: Jul 20, 2007
Posted on: January 10, 2012 5:34 pm

Elway says Harrison's low hit on Decker not dirty

Fendon is right. The Steelers lost because they missed a FG chance at the end of the half with a bad snap.... took a sack/fumble in the final drive and couldn't get an attempt there either... and just never adjusted with the secondary.

That being said I think the pass interference on Taylor was garbage. Thomas appeared to come back for the ball and hit Taylor. If the ball was underthrown that should be a penalty. But on an overthrow where the WR stops his route and gets run into? That's no penalty in my books.

And the hit was clean. If Harrison goes any higher he gets fined, it seems.

Since: Sep 24, 2007
Posted on: January 10, 2012 5:16 pm

Elway says Harrison's low hit on Decker not dirty

I am a Steelers fan.  Officiating had nothing to do with Pittsburgh losing this game.  The inability of the Steelers defense to put any pressure on the QB was what did them in.  Denver averaged 31.6 yards per completion.  Tebow had time time to drop back and wait for recievers to get downfield.  Being without Ryan Clark and Keisel was probably the biggest problem for them.  The safeties, including Polamalu, were repeatedly out of position to help out.  On the final touchdown of the game a safty came up to take away the run and the cornerback covering the reciever shoud have taken away the inside route because there was no help there.  He, instead, set up to the outside and gave him a clear lane.  If a defense plans to sell out on the run they need to be able to cover the recievers on the intial routes.  Pittsburgh did not and they lost because of it.

Since: Aug 12, 2007
Posted on: January 10, 2012 5:14 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Jan 25, 2011
Posted on: January 10, 2012 5:01 pm

Elway says Harrison's low hit on Decker not dirty

Wow I not sure I even understand what you are saying.  And, it is allowed not "aloud".  Did you ever actually play this game.  When I played I tackled guys any way I could and as soon as possible.  Where did you learn that the strike zone is from the shoulders to the waist?  Also, hits to the pelvic girdle can be serious and I personally never enjoyed getting hit there.

Since: Dec 17, 2008
Posted on: January 10, 2012 4:55 pm

Elway says Harrison's low hit on Decker not dirty

Jesus Christ, now we're complaining we're hitting guys too low?  The new NFL sucks and I'm so done giving them my money.  Players warned early on that these type of hits will happen and career ending injuries will occur.  To the Denver fan who thought that was dirty,please go away.  Weak cowards like you are ruining the game. 

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