Posted December 15, 2013

Bengals punter Kevin Huber’s horrible first quarter ends with a fractured jaw

AFC North, Cincinnati Bengals
This was just the beginning of Kevin Huber's bad night.

This was just the beginning of Kevin Huber’s bad night. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Some will tell you that punters are people, too — but Cincinnati Bengals punter Kevin Huber might want entry into a different species altogether after the first quarter in Sunday night’s game between the Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers. At the end of Cincinnati’s first possession of the evening, Huber got set to punt from his own 16-yard line. But the snap was errant, and Huber was contacted near the end zone by safety Will Allen. Ed Hochuli’s officiating crew originally ruled it a safety, but because contact was made before the ball broke the plane in the wrong direction, it was ruled that the Steelers would have the ball at the Cincinnati 1-yard line. From there, it took running back Le’Veon Bell two plays to grab Pittsburgh’s first touchdown of the night, and a 7-0 lead.

(GIF courtesy of Bleacher Report)

Ah, but things were about to get much, much worse. With 1:27 left in the first quarter, Huber punted to Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, and had to watch as Brown returned his punt 67 yards for a touchdown.

Or, that is to say, Huber saw part of the touchdown — as Brown was rolling toward the end zone, Steelers linebacker Terence Garvin absolutely creamed Huber with a vicious block right to the face. The block went unflagged, and Huber was seen with gauze packed into his mouth as he left the field. Initial reports indicated that Huber had a “dental injury,” which was certainly the case — he suffered a fractured jaw on the play and will obviously not return. He’ll be replaced by kicker Mike Nugent, who had best keep his head on a swivel.

(GIF courtesy The Big Lead)

Make fun of punters all you like, but remember — those guys still have to hit the field. And once in a while, they hit the field all too literally.

77 comments
AlexCsondes
AlexCsondes

Blindside throat/jaw cheapshot. Suspension should have followed for this rook.

rginarose
rginarose

Kevin Huber is lucky to be alive.  Someone in average physical condition, based on physics, would have a brain stem injury and would have died.   I think this is as close to a homicidal hit as we have seen.   the photos clearly show Huber's head snap back.   Here in Cincy, there are rumors about a career ending inury.  Yes, Garvin is an attempted murderer and the coaching, management and ownership are complicitous

AndrewLynch
AndrewLynch

Pittsburgh, for all their success and rings, are really a bunch of thugs.


jackgorfin
jackgorfin

Cheap shot.  The idiot should be suspended for the rest of the year and fined.  If he did that on the street he would be in jail.

JTCMD
JTCMD

A fine and suspension is clearly in order.

A cheating coach and thug hits on the field.

No class.

CharlesMeiyoCole
CharlesMeiyoCole

The rule was made for several reasons. One being kickers do not wear the same heavy pads and protection in general that most football players wear. It was leading with the helmet regardless of how you look at it. A dirty play along with all the other missed calls makes for a bad day for the Bengals. Lots of pass interference and blocks in the back not called on Pittsburg. If Ben Cheeseburger got hit like that all of you Pittsburg fans would have hired a hitman to shoot that player. Quit defending a player who obviously was intending to hurt a player.

playemball
playemball

After reading some of these Pittsburg fans replies..it reminds me why I'm so happy their teams record sucks!

playemball
playemball

Garvin should be ashamed to take the field..what a cowardly play!

pgadad04
pgadad04

This article makes light of what may well end up being a career ending injury, as a hairline vertebral fracture has also been reportedly discovered in addition to the fractured jaw. This clearly fragrant play needs to be treated by suspensions, not just fines. It is not surprising it comes from a teamwhose coach has recently shown he also lacks ethics and a respect for the game.

PaulBlair
PaulBlair

It was a chicken sh** play.  The punter was doing his obligatory "chase the runner" down thing, and he gets clocked by this guy Garvin.  If Garvin was such a tough guy, maybe he should have hit #40 who was actually trying to make a tackle, no instead he went after the kicker with a blow to the head.  I'm not a Steeler, or Bengals or Raven's fan, I actually could care less about these teams.  I do care about cheap shots on kickers that ruin the game.  What a coward.

Shane Mac
Shane Mac

This same type hit was seen last year when Seattle's Golden Tate put a blind-side block on Dallas' Sean Lee.   There was a unnecessary roughness penalty called on that play but it was on a Cowboy linebacker for hitting QB Russell Wilson out of bounds.  However, Tate was fined $21,000 for the hit (the maximum fine allowed at that time).  And that was a smaller guy hitting a larger man.  This play yesterday was nasty and it will be a fine for Terrance Garvin.  It makes you wonder though - did the punter have his mouth guard in?

JustinCourter
JustinCourter

The way the Officials let the STEELERS play last night was sickening,they let them do whatever they wanted???..The NFL makes rules and then does nothing to enforce them? I have lost all respect for ANYONE in the NFL's head offices...The Bengals Steelers game was one of many games where i have seen the officials turn a blind eye...If these things don't get addressed i do believe a better league should be formed...The hit on Kevin Huber was as vicious as they come T.Garvin should be fined or possibly never allowed to step foot on a field again...he broke his jaw and fractured his neck??with clearly a hit that was helmet to helmet and also on a defenseless player??? BOOOOO the NFL for the way they are not protecting these boys that play out there...if i was his father i wouldnt stop until justice was serve...THE NFL is a money hungry piece of worthless dog poo...Will never be an NFL fan Again but will always love the Cincinnati Bengals...who-dey for life...

JackRolfes
JackRolfes

this is ridiculous! Kevin Huber was not in any way "defenseless" but that was a very cheap hit! helmet to helmet contact should have been called. the steelers is a VERY, VERY un-sportsman like team. and that call for taunting on the bengals? oh come on! that was a very dirty hit, and numger 57 needs at least a very large fine!

RickDeckard
RickDeckard

Clean hit. There is no such thing as a "defensless punter" AFTER the return man has caught the ball, at that point the punter becomes a football player like any other. Fines are warranted for intentional misconduct, not inadvertent injury----this is Football! The block was clearly made with the players shoulder making first impact and his head turned away. That the side of his helmet got under the face guard of Huber's helmet and fractured his jaw is unfortunate and I hope he recovers soon. However this is why Football is a rough sport.

coldmanfive
coldmanfive

This is clearly an illegal hit on a defenseless punter.  Why do I say a defenseless punter?  Because according to NFL rules, a punter is defenseless at all times during and AFTER a punt.  Doesn't matter where the returner is, or where the ball is, a punter is always considered defenseless.


Secondly, this is exactly the kind of block that instigated this rule to begin with.  The "Hines Ward rule" clearly "makes illegal a blindside block if it comes from the blocker's helmet, forearm or shoulder and lands to the head or neck area of the defender."  In fact, it happened when Hines Ward hit the Bengals' Keith Rivers from about the same angle during a block, and...surprise!...broke his jaw.  The punter wasn't looking, and the hit came from the side, making it a blindside hit that was clearly in the neck/head region, since his helmet broke Huber's jaw.

This is clearly the exact type of block the league was targeting when it made the rule, which makes it a clearly illegal hit.

EasyGoer
EasyGoer

Man, he got laid the eff out!

ScottYoung
ScottYoung

I've watched this hit about 50 times now, and did a screen grab at the moment of impact so I could see it clearly.  The hit comes as the punter is looking to his right, and the forehead of the defender's helmet hits the punter roughly about on his left collarbone, with the defender's helmet almost fully under the punter's helmet.  Was it a rough hit?  Yes.  Was it unnecessarily rough?  Possibly - it would certainly have been better if it had been made with the shoulder to the mid-chest area - but what made it so devastating was that the punter did not have situational awareness and didn't see it coming.  The kick returner was at risk of being tackled by the punter, thus the block was justified, if not the type of block itself.  However, in situations like this, defenders do not always have the time to judge what type of player his opponent is - he simply may not have time to say to himself, "That's a punter", and reduce his blocking power.


I'd say 50-50 on this, but I do think a fine of some sort is in order.

NoOneIKnow33
NoOneIKnow33

Pittsburgh63... you are WRONG! That was a blatant hit to the face! Typical Steeler thug play...

JojoFarris
JojoFarris

One on people it was not a cheap shot it's football and if a kicker is going to go for a tackle then he needs to be ready to get hit if you can't hit the kicker then he needs to get off the field there is a reason girls don't play football it's a hard hitting sport

JojoFarris
JojoFarris

Get your facks straight the Bengles said the believe that the fractured vertebrae was pre existing

mastick
mastick

@PaulBlair  Sigh. Try freezing the highlight of the runback at 0:12. You can see Garvin locked in on Huber, who is barely a yard away, while #40 was 7-8 yards away. Plus Steelers #98 was between Garvin and #40 (and probably should have gone for that block), so Garvin focused on the only other Bengal in position to make a play. Had he bypassed Huber to try to block #40, he would likely have just forced Brown to the left, directly into Huber, which would have been stupid on his part. And Garvin did not "go after the kicker with a blow to the head", that is transparently obvious from the replay. He went for Huber's chest with his shoulder. Where he was stupid was in setting up and driving the block hard - driving a block like that into an unprepared opponent's upper chest often results in "inadvertent" contact with the head, and I put that in quotes because it's been seen way too often to be a surprise anymore. A fine is definitely deserved; probably not a suspension.

Pittsburgh63
Pittsburgh63

@JustinCourter Where was all your out rage for LB when three ravens speared him in the head with their head. Where all the outrage against your thug witworth going after defensive guys legs .... Good don't be a fan of the nfl.. o yeah the bungles are still the bungles. As I have stated repeatedly the hit was tough and was very very close but not intentional. However the nfl being where it is today will fine him because it is the steelers.

cech_ftw
cech_ftw

@JackRolfes it waas a competely legal hit. led with the shoulder. and its tough to tell who is who out there, so those guys dont discriminate between who they are hitting. Its guys like you who are taking the fun out of watching football. Watching football used to be about seeing the big guys hit each other, now if someone gets hit it should be a crime as much as you people cry about it. Go watch a non contact sport if you cant handle football, it would do us all a favor.

MatthewFarmer
MatthewFarmer

@RickDeckard Rick you're clearly showing your Yellow and Black if you think that was anything but leading with the helmet and directly to the chin which is the head.  This is exactly what J. harrison was fined for constantly b/c they had no idea how to make a tackle or in this case, a block.  Aim for the ribs and this is 100% a non-issue.  

Tim C
Tim C

@RickDeckardBut...BUT,if that hit were on ANY QB,it would have been flagged.

I agree with you on "football is a rough sport" and quarterbacks shouldn't be immune to these hits either.

JustinCourter
JustinCourter

@coldmanfive i thinki they ignored it because we voted against it..it made me sick the other hits they let happen during the same return..it showed a few blocks in the back..those on two steelers double teamed a bengal and then laid him out the returner was nowhere near them either...i cant believe how they let the steelers play...exactly why i am a Bengals fan and hate the NFL!!

Mel
Mel

@coldmanfive He wasn't defenseless and the rules do not make state that a punter is defenseless. He was moving in to make a tackle. He got blocked. Period. That is why it wasn't called. That's why no fines have been issued (and won't be issued). After his kicking leg is back on the ground, he is viewed as a player on the field, like all others. Learn the rules.

Pittsburgh63
Pittsburgh63

@coldmanfive if it was "clearly illegal" it would have been flagged. The hines rule is when they peel back and hit the player. This was two players traveling parallel to the line of scrimmage that collided. Brutal hit yes. Intentional to do harm.. questionable (look at the tape) The Punter has clearly lost focus to the situation and is focused on making a play. I do think he will get fined as he should have dropped even lower to hit young man trying too hard.

JimLarrison
JimLarrison

@ScottYoung I agree with you on the speed and that the defender was doing his job.  I agree with your overall assessment of the play and the outcome.  


The primary problem I have with the block is it is clear that the defender "loaded up" before he hit the kicker. Of course you can argue that this is pro football and a pro punter should be aware at all times what is around him, but having seen plenty of pro games, played and coached youth football, it is very clear to me that the defender wanted to lay out the player in his way and he chose a manner in which he deserves to be fined.   There are plenty of ways you can place a block on that player and ensure he will not be in the play, and the manner that was chosen was overly aggressive and something that should not be a part of the NFL. 


I have zero doubt, based on how he sets up and then lays the block, that he knew what he was doing. 

Shane Mac
Shane Mac

@ScottYoung This same type hit was seen last year when Seattle's Golden Tate put a blind-side block on Dallas' Sean Lee.   There was a unnecessary roughness penalty called on that play but it was on a Cowboy linebacker for hitting QB Russell Wilson out of bounds.  However, Tate was fined $21,000 for the hit (the maximum fine allowed at that time).  And that was a smaller guy hitting a larger man.  This play yesterday was nasty and it will be a fine for Terrance Garvin.  It makes you wonder though - did the punter have his mouth guard in?

AlexCsondes
AlexCsondes

Yeah, I want to blindside cheapshot you in the throat and see how you like it girlyman! Internet tough guys are dime a dozen, You're finished...

playemball
playemball

@JojoFarris **facts

                   **Bengals

                     **they

You Sir are a moron!

DevenRichardson
DevenRichardson

@MatthewFarmer @RickDeckard Even lower..the target should always be the waistline.  As a defensive player, particularly when making one-on- one tackles in open field with a "shifty" runner you focus on the waistline.  If you focus on the ribs he can make you miss a tackle more easy.  Keep your balance and feet moving focus on waist as striking area and your less likely to get "juked" as well.

JoshShure
JoshShure

@Mel @coldmanfive  Take a look 6 and under b both 1 and 2 and tell me that you know the rules now Mel


Article 9 It is a foul if a player initiates unnecessary contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture.

(a) Players in a defenseless posture are:

OFFICIAL NFL PLAYING RULES 73

  1. (1)  A player in the act of or just after throwing a pass;

  2. (2)  A receiver attempting to catch a pass; or who has completed a catch and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a runner. If the receiver/runner is capable of avoiding or warding off the impending contact of an opponent, he is no longer a defenseless player;

  3. (3)  A runner already in the grasp of a tackler and whose forward progress has been stopped;

  4. (4)  A kickoff or punt returner attempting to field a kick in the air;

  5. (5)  A player on the ground at the end of a play;

  6. (6)  A kicker/punter during the kick or during the return;

  7. (7)  A quarterback at any time after a change of possession, and

  8. (8)  A player who receives a “blindside” block when the blocker is moving toward his own endline and approaches the opponent from behind or from the side.

(b) Prohibited contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture is:

  1. (1)  Forcibly hitting the defenseless player’s head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder, regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the defenseless player by encircling or grasping him; and

  2. (2)  Lowering the head and making forcible contact with the top/crown or forehead/”hairline” parts of the helmet against any part of the defenseless player’s body. 

BradleyJones
BradleyJones

@Mel @coldmanfive if that would've been a QB after having thrown an interception there would have definitely been a penalty and fines handed out. Especially if it was Tom Brady.

MatthewFarmer
MatthewFarmer

@Mel @coldmanfive  Posted by Mike Florio on December 16, 2013, 12:23 AM EST

If Kevin Huber weren’t the Bengals punter, the helmet-to-chin hit applied to him by Steelers linebacker Terence Garvin may have been legal.  Since Huber is a punter, it doesn’t matter.

Punters and kickers at all times fall within the definition of defenseless players.  This means that they can’t be struck by an opponent with a helmet or in the head or neck area.

In this specific case, Garvin hit Huber with a helmet in the head, breaking Huber’s jaw.  A flag should have been thrown.

JustinCourter
JustinCourter

@Mel @coldmanfive you can say that but isnt it the same way with a QB after he takes off running and passes the line of scrimmage??i watched three games this year where a bengal dove onto a opposing QB and barely touched him and they called that a penalty??

mastick
mastick

@Okiechief@cech_ftw@JackRolfesHe led with his right shoulder, which is obvious from both the end zone and sideline replays. Not that that will save him from a fine - nor should it. There's no excuse anymore for not expecting that kind of hit to result in a follow-up helmet impact, and it's not like the league's focus on penalizing that kind of contact is a secret.