- (Photo: Reuters/Chris Keane)
During a botched play, New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz suffered a big hit by Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Ryan Clark, who was penalized by officials for the hit and may be fined by the league.
The hit occurred with seven minutes remaining in the first half as the Giants were in the red zone and looking to score.
The hit on Victor Cruz came during a play that was not executed as it was designed. The New York Giants were inside the Steelers' 10-yard line and were hoping to come away with a touchdown.
During the play, Giants quarterback Eli Manning dropped back to pass but was flushed out of the pocket by the Steelers pass rush. Manning spotted Cruz in the end zone and tried to squeeze the ball past several defenders, but as the ball took flight, it was deflected and almost intercepted. As the ball dropped to the ground, Clark lowered his shoulder and leveled Cruz in the end zone.
Clark was flagged for unnecessary roughness and the Giants went on to score during the drive. The next question to be answered is if Clark should be fined by the league for the hit.
During the game's broadcast a replay of Clark's hit on Cruz was repeatedly shown after it happened as commentators tried to explain the incident.
Clark was handed a 15-yard penalty for his hit and the Giants took advantage of the automatic first down and scored a touchdown.
The answer for justification of any possible fine will come down to Roger Goodell and the NFL's interpretation of the defender's intention.
Over the past few years the league has taken a tough stance against hits to the head in order to protect players. The replay showed that Clark's hit, while vicious, was not aimed at Cruz's head and was completed with Clark's shoulder, not helmet.