Sprinting toward New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz in the fourth quarter Sunday, Ravens free safety Ed Reed delivered a shoulder blow high to the upper body.
Part of the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year's shoulder glanced off of Cruz's facemask during the Ravens' 33-14 victory over the defendin Super Bowl champions, triggering a penalty for an illegal hit announced by the official as illegal contact to the helmet and neck area of a defenseless receiver.
As a repeat offender who had a one-game suspension overturned by NFL hearing officer and Ted Cottrell prior to the San Diego Chargers game earlier this season and replaced with a $50,000 fine, Reed has now had four incidents in the past three years and could face punishment from the NFL. The Ravens are hoping that any potential punishment from the league office won't go beyond a fine and that Reed won't face a suspension.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday afternoon that Reed and other players are in a difficult position under the NFL rulebook due to the speed of the game, also noting that wide receiver Torrey Smith was penalized for an illegal block where he appeared to make contact with his shoulder to the chest of a Giants defender.
"It's tough, full-speed, the whole thing," Harbaugh said at his weekly press conference at the Ravens' training complex. "I hope the league really takes a look at this in the offseason and figures out a way to help the players out a little bit.
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"It's been a real challenge so far this year. Ed was trying to do everything he could. I could say the same thing about Torrey on the block back, it was chest high. Our guys are really trying to do the right thing and it's difficult at full speed to do that."
Harbaugh noted that typically the NFL informs teams and players of any punishment later in the week.
If Reed is suspended without pay, it would cost him an entire game check of $423,529. This hit could fall into a grey area in how it's interpreted under the NFL rulebook.
"I don't know," Reed said Sunday when asked if he thinks he'll be punished by the league office. "I don't know what's going to come of it. I had the referee whispering in my ear on the second play.
"All I like to do is play the game. I don't really know what to do with it. I don't really know what to do with that. I thought it was a decent hit. He got up from it."