In the wake of the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal, there will naturally be some second guessing and revisiting of games to try and determine just how widespread the intentional injury causing hits may be, league wide. Recently, when asked if he ever felt targeted in that way, Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger singled out the San Francisco 49ers. He said.
"I think when we played San Fran, I felt like there were some things going on, some extra . . . Now, obviously, I did have the ankle (injury) and I was playing, so there was kind of a bull's-eye on there anyway. But for the most part, guys play tough and you go into a game expecting it. I expect to be tougher than them."
49ers defensive end Aldon Smith, who picked up 2.5 sacks in the Niners 20-3 win over Pittsburgh, took exception to these comments from Big Ben, as he told Matt Barrows.
"Our goal was to win the game," Smith said. "We don't go out and talk about hurting other players, their ankles or injuries or any of that. We were going out to win the game. The quarterback, he controls the game. So if he got hit, it happens."
In a situation like this, it's one man's word versus another. In the interest of quelling too much of an uproar, ESPN's Mike Sando went back to the tape to see if he could identify any 'extra curricular activity' from the Niners' defense. His conclusion?
Lest this little implication get out of hand unnecessarily, I went back and watched every Steelers offensive play from that game. The stats crew credited the 49ers with eight quarterback hits. Most were straightforward. Defenders were not twisting Roethlisberger's lower body, rolling over onto his sore ankle or stepping on him blatantly.
Stretches lasting 15-plus plays passed without the 49ers making any contact with Roethlisberger. They did get pressure on him late in the game. Aldon Smith did hit Roethlisberger in the lower body at one point, but the hit appeared routine.
So there you have it.
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