In the second quarter of Saturday night's 20-3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Divisional playoff round, middle linebacker Ray Lewis was flagged when he launched himself into Austin Collie and appeared to crash helmets with the rookie wide receiver after he caught a pass from Peyton Manning in the end zone.
Although Lewis forced Collie to drop the ball, Lewis was cited for what referee Carl Cheffers called "a blow to a defenseless receiver." After the game, coach John Harbaugh initially defended the tackle, but acknowledged that he hadn't fully reviewed.
On Tuesday, Harbaugh reiterated his previous stance on the matter when he was asked if he thought the NFL would fine Lewis for the hit.
"I don't think the league will fine him," Harbaugh said. "It was not a cheap shot. I had a chance to look at all those plays, obviously. That was a good, hard football tackle, and Ray Lewis made a perfect form tackle. The receiver caught the ball, was going to protect himself, and dropped his head to a certain level that was below his shoulder-pad level after Ray had committed to the tackle. At that point in time, you're committed to the tackle. You're not going to stop. You can't stop in mid-air. It's not humanly possible. So when he went in to make that play, he was definitely in the strike zone. The player ducked and got hit in the head. That's how I saw it."