Ryan Clark fined, Wallace & Brown’s torrid pace, Tomlin’s indecision

-B- The NFL has issued Ryan Clark a $40,000 fine for his helmet-to-helmet hit against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Ed Bouchette reports that Clark is angry about the fine. Ben Roethlisberger also was upset, calling for the NFLPA to “do something” about the rash of fines. 

Here’s the hit on Ed Dickson that is in question:


Watching it live, I thought it was a good hit, but Clark did lead with the crown of his helmet and made direct helmet-to-helmet contact with the receiver. You can disagree with the current rules, but it was called correctly on the field. What is frustrating is watching Ray Lewis do the same thing to Hines Ward without the penalty being called. 

Helmet-to-helmet hits are a tricky thing to detect at full speed. A high shoulder-to-shoulder hit can often look bad. What if the ball carrier leads with his head and initiates contact? Hopefully the NFL provides some further clarification and the officials get more experienced at picking these out and being consistent with their calls. 

-B- WRs Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown are turning into quite the 1-2 punch. Wallace has 868 yards on 47 catches and Brown has 540 yards on 39 grabs. Both will likely end up having over 1,000 receiving yards for the season, the first Steelers duo to do that since Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes achieved the feat in 2009.

In terms of overall value, though, I think this is the Steelers best combo at receiver since 2002, when a much younger Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress terrorized the league. Each had over 1,300 yards receiving despite a carosuel at quarterback between Tommy Maddox and Kordell Stewart. Ward was 28 and Burress 27 during that season. Wallace and Brown are both only 25 years old this season. Can you imagine what they’ll be like in 3 years if they are still playing together? If both continue to improve and Roethlisberger stays healthy, the Steelers could have the best WR duo since Swann and Stallworth.  

-B- Mike Tomlin’s decision (or indecision) on the 4th down the Steelers had in their penultimate drive has been much discussed. Advanced NFL Stats has the most logical piece about the decision. Prior to the delay of game, kicking a FG was a slightly better option than punting. However, they argue that the best option of all would have been going for it on 4th down…even after the delay of game penalty. Tomlin has always been fairly aggressive in these types of situations so I was a little surprised watching the confusion from the sidelines last Sunday. 

The Steelers were too passive when they had the ball that drive and too passive on defense once they had punted away. Beating good teams in this NFL requires you to be aggressive at all times. I’m sure the Steelers will play that situation a little differently next time around.