Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith didn't hold back his thoughts on a hit by Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell that drew a roughing the passer penalty in the third quarter of Pittsburgh's 19-13 win on Sunday.
"I felt like it was extremely late," Smith said, per ESPN.com's Adam Teicher. "I felt there was nothing done there to avoid contact. It was really low from the backside. I thought it was about as flagrant as it gets when it comes to a low hit on the quarterback."
After Smith had already released the ball on a 37-yard pass to Kareem Hunt, Mitchell appeared to lunge at Smith's right knee. The play met with immediate scorn from those watching the game:
Mitchell told reporters after the game he didn't purposefully hit Smith low but had instead lost his balance and couldn't stop himself from making contact with Smith's knee.
"If you watch the tape, I'm even trying to turn my body as I'm falling," Mitchell said, per ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler. "Alex is back pedaling into me, I wasn't even going in the direction of Alex. He's actually throwing it and fading away. There are a lot of things that go into the play that make it an accident you don't want to see."
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday he agreed with the referee's decision to flag Mitchell for roughing passer since it violated the league rules on hitting quarterbacks low, according to 247Sports' Bryan DeArdo. Tomlin also defended Mitchell, saying he didn't think the veteran safety purposefully tried to injure Smith.
Teicher noted the NFL has fined Mitchell twice for unnecessary roughness and that he could face another fine from the league resulting from Sunday's game.
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