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Earl Thomas under fire for illegal hit that concussed Mason Rudolph

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Former Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas is in the headlines for a nasty roughing the passer penalty that injured Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph.

In the 3rd quarter of Pittsburgh’s home game against the Baltimore Ravens, Rudolph threw a pass on the run and was rendered unconscious after Thomas hit him helmet to helmet. This video may be uncomfortable to watch, but here’s what transpired.

Thomas was flagged late, and Rudolph obviously did not return. He was supposed to be carted off, but apparently Pittsburgh’s cart wasn’t working so he was walked off the field.

There were calls and chants from Steelers fans for Thomas to be ejected — side note, I can think of a play at that same stadium that wasn’t even flagged and was certainly ejection worthy— but he stayed in the game. Dean Blandino explained why there was no ejection.

“[NFL review officials in New York] obviously felt that it didn’t raise to the standard of a disqualification.”

Thomas defended himself post-game and expressed his concern for Rudolph, who has since been released from the hospital.

“I was just getting to the ball, trying to make a play for my team,” Thomas said (transcription from NBC Sports Washington). “I hit the strike zone like we talked about, I didn’t go high, I didn’t try to intentionally hurt him. I’m worried about him. I heard he’s at the hospital, my prayers go out to him and his family. But I’m never trying to hurt anybody.”

“I was asking the ref what happened, they said upstairs said a part of my helmet caught him in the chin, and that’s what caused the flag,” Thomas explained. “I still believe that it wasn’t intentional on my part.”

The Ravens come to town to play the Seattle Seahawks on October 20th. I doubt Thomas gets anything beyond a fine, but it’s no doubt made him an enemy of Steelers fans moving forward.