A Victor Cruz hit might be costing Ryan Clark a bit of money this week.
The Pittsburgh Steelers defender delivered a viscous hit to Cruz with a little more than seven minutes remaining in the second quarter of his team’s game on Sunday, sending the wide receiver down hard to the turf. Many football followers believe the Victor Cruz hit could lead to discipline — and possibly a fine — from the NFL for Clark.
The Victor Cruz hit took place on a broken play in the second quarter, the Yahoo! Sports blog Shutdown Corner notes. With the New York Giants inside the Steelers’ 10-yard line and threatening to score, quarterback Eli Manning looked for Cruz in the endzone. The pass didn’t connect, and, as the ball fell to the turf, Clark slammed into Cruz, earning a penalty for unnecessary roughness.
Whether Clark is fined for the Victor Cruz hit will likely come down to the NFL’s view of the defender’s intention. The league has cracked down on hits to the head, but it did not appear that Clark was targeting Cruz’s head, and, in fact, he didn’t make contact with it.
But Clark did hit Victor Cruz when the wide receiver was defenseless, Shutdown Corner noted:
“But it’s also very clear that Clark was looking to inflict pain on a receiver that wasn’t in position to defend himself. He honed in on Cruz in the end zone, saw an opportunity to strike when Cruz wasn’t looking, and hammered him. It’s hard to watch Clark through the play and not come to the conclusion that his only intention was to hit a vulnerable receiver who realistically had no chance to catch the ball after Ike Taylor batted it away and had no idea Clark was coming. The hit was, at very least, unnecessary.”
There doesn’t appear to be consensus on whether the Victor Cruz hit deserves a fine or whether it was even dirty. As NESN notes, the hit was clean according to NFL rules.