According to the NFL’s head of officials, Dean Blandino, the hit by Pittsburgh Steelers’ return team blocker Terence Gavin on Cincinnati Bengals’ punter Kevin Huber that broke his jaw and ended his season was an illegal one.
The announcement from Blandino confirms what many analysts have speculated around the league after watching the violent play in the first quarter of Sunday night’s game between the Bengals and Steelers.
“Huber, he’s a punter. And the key is he’s defenseless throughout the down,” Blandino said. ”Even though he’s pursuing the play, he still gets defenseless-player protection. You can’t hit him in the head or neck, and you can’t use the crown or forehead parts of the helmet to the body.”
For those that missed the devastating hit, Garvin unleashed an incredibly hard hit on the punter, driving his helmet into the bottom of Huber’s face mask, breaking his jaw and cracking his vertebrae on the play.
Garvin should have been handed a personal foul penalty, according to Blandino, which would have negated the touchdown, not to mention who knows how it would’ve influenced the momentum of the game.
“You’ll see the close-up where you can see the contact to the head or neck area,” Blandino said. “So this will certainly be a point of emphasis this week, especially with our referees who are responsible for the punter on plays like this. We want to flag hits like that.”
Many are speculating that Garvin will be handed a fine from the NFL for the hit sometime this week.
[Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon]