I was just on the verge of switching off the Jets/Steelers game on Sunday afternoon when I observed the exact same thing that Jets center Nick Mangold did.
The Jets were in a ‘victory’ formation… just one final snap and kneel-down by Mike Vick to wrap up the game—more of a ceremonial gesture.
But here comes Steelers safety Mike Mitchell, sneaking suspiciously down into the box as if he’s about to make a hit.
So, I decided to keep watching.
In the blink of an eye, Mitchell launched himself off the ground. Mangold reacted swiftly and flipped Mitchell, setting off a chaotic scene.
Perhaps this might be the only time this Giants fan has ever cheered for the Jets, and it was during that brawl.
Some of you may remember a similar (but not as malicious) incident in the Giants/Bucs game back in 2012. I was a part of that match.
Greg Schiano and his college-style tactics diverted attention from what was otherwise a fantastic football game.
I approached the Bucs D-Line, clearly communicating and signaling our intention for a QB to kneel before the play.
This is a practice that linemen have been carrying out for years, and it’s generally understood that physical contact is no longer permitted. At most, there might be a slight bump.
I hold myself responsible for assuming this understanding and not taking better precautions.
The entire defensive line took on a submarine position and lunged straight for our knees.
So, much like yesterday, punches were thrown and heated words exchanged.
After tempers had settled, at least five Bucs extended their apologies to me for their actions.
Greg Schiano asserted that his team plays with intensity until the end of the game, hoping to force a fumble on the snap. It didn’t seem like many of the Bucs shared their coach’s stance.
Do the guards and tackles handle the snap? How would targeting our knees disrupt the snap?
It’s already challenging enough to stay injury-free during a game. I was quoted post-game, labeling Tampa’s behavior as “bush league.”
Surprisingly, the Steelers/Jets incident was even more severe.
Regarding this Mike Mitchell guy, I find it hard to believe that a coach I hold in high regard (Mike Tomlin) approved of his move.
I also find it hard to believe a locker room full of respected veterans supported it.
No one can convince me that Mitchell intended to disrupt the snap by leaping over the center.
It’s evident that the QB would have already knelt by the time Mitchell reached him.
And let’s not forget where Vick would have been struck had Mitchell succeeded… directly in the head.
I’m pretty sure we could have deemed that as launching into a defenseless player.
Mitchell was unquestionably in the wrong, but I wanted to allow the situation some space and see what was being discussed and written throughout the league regarding this incident.
I knew that some would label the Jets as complainers, just as they did with the Giants back in 2012.
As expected, I found an article by Dom Consentino of New Jersey’s Star-Ledger, who also covers the Jets.
There doesn’t seem to be anything the Steelers did wrong except violate one of the league’s dumb unwritten rules.
Well, what if Vick had suffered a concussion from that hit? Would it still be considered a dumb, unwritten rule, then?
I acknowledge that the Jets are 2-8, making it more tempting to pile on with negativity.
Few people enjoy seeing them struggle more than I do, but you’re mistaken, Dom.
Why not write an article commending Mangold for doing the right thing and protecting his QB?
While discussing these matters is essential, ultimately, the following actions should take place:
Mitchell (and Mitchell alone) should receive a fine… unless, of course, Mike Tomlin instructed Mitchell to execute the fly-by, in which case, he should also be fined.
Lastly, and perhaps most crucially, Nick Mangold deserves a game ball. Congratulations!