The hit came in the third quarter of the Ravens’ overtime win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. As Rudolph escaped pressure and threw a pass, Thomas leaped into Rudolph. Thomas’ helmet appeared to make contact with Rudolph’s chin, who was left motionless on the ground.
Rudolph, after being helped off the field, was sent to the hospital and diagnosed with a concussion. He returned to practice this week but remains in concussion protocol.
Thomas’ blow also drew a 15-yard penalty. After the game, Thomas said the hit was not malicious.
“I didn’t think much of it. I was just getting to the ball, trying to make a play for my team,” Thomas said Sunday. “I hit the strike zone, like we talk 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. At the end of the day, guys have families.”
Coach John Harbaugh also came to the defense of Thomas and on Monday said a fine would “surprise him.”
“I see Earl trying to pull off," Harbaugh said. “I mean, there’s no question about it when you watch the tape. He goes in there, and as he gets close, he’s running to the ball. Mason’s scrambling and going, and [Thomas] is running to the ball, playing fast, and he tries to pull out. It’s clear. So I respect him for that. Just an unfortunate collision. I think he tipped his chin. That’s what happened. But he tried to get out of there. He didn’t try to hit him. He felt bad about it, the result of it.”