Whenever the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers get together, you might not be able to predict the outcome, but you can always count on seeing the most physical game of the year. These two teams bring the pain and lay the wood as hard as any other in the league and when they face each other, it's the "perfect storm" for the old-school type of defensive football that the game's history was based on.
This past Sunday was a typical throw-back to the era of making the offense pay for every play in the game, as no less than three players were hit with significant fines for illegal hits to "defenseless" players. In the past, these hits would be featured in highlights around the league and made into posters to be sold and profited on by the league. However, in a new effort to protect the players in what is such a violent game, the league is cracking down on violators and this past Sunday's game results in some substantial fines for guys well-known for being among the most physical in the game.
Ravens ILB Ray Lewis was hit with a $15,000 fine for knocking Steelers WR Hines Ward out of the game. Lewis' hit may be illegal under the rules, but it was obvious he never intended to hurt Ward and vows to continue playing with his same ferocious style. In a story on NFL.com regarding Lewis' fine, he says, "you can't stop playing defense the way defense has always been created to play."
Steelers free safety Ryan Clark has been fined by the league office as recently as last week and was penalized both on the field and in his wallet after hitting Ravens TE Ed Dickson on Sunday night. According to another story on NFL.com about Clark's fine, both Clark and head coach Mike Tomlin disagreed with the $40,000 fine and especially the penalty. Another NFL.com story has the team rallying around Clark in support of what they feel was a legal hit with no explanation from the officials nor the league.
The third player reportedly fined was Steelers LB James Harrison, for a hit on Ravens RB Ray Rice. While that hit has not been publicized anywhere as much as either Lewis' and Clark's, it is just one more fine for the player that has become the league's "poster child" on illegal hits.