PITTSBURGH — Earl Thomas didn’t think much of his devastating hit on Mason Rudolph until he saw Rudolph on the ground, motionless.
Thomas’ monster hit left Rudolph out for the game with a concussion and left the Ravens with a 15-yard penalty for roughing the passer.
Rudolph was carted off with his facemask removed and later diagnosed with a concussion.
“I was just getting to the ball, trying to make a play for my team,” Thomas said. “I hit the strike zone like we talked about, I didn’t go high, I didn’t try to intentionally hurt him. I’m worried about him. I heard he’s at the hospital, my prayers go out to him and his family. But I’m never trying to hurt anybody.”
As Steelers fans at Heinz Field chanted, ‘Throw him out,’ Thomas was penalized 15 yards for roughing the passer.
Thomas’ helmet caught Rudolph on the bottom of his facemask on the chin. Rudolph was transported to the hospital as Devlin Hodges, an undrafted free agent rookie, took over at quarterback for the Steelers.
“I was asking the ref what happened, they said upstairs said a part of my helmet caught him in the chin, and that’s what caused the flag,” Thomas explained. “I still believe that it wasn’t intentional on my part.”
As for whether Thomas could face supplemental discipline from the league, Thomas was hopeful he’ll avoid punishment.
“Hopefully not, it still was a football play, it wasn’t dirty,” Thomas said. “He actually got sandwiched. B (Brandon) Carr came from behind, I hit him from the side like I said, the strike zone. I didn’t even see a flag initially, but I think once they saw how serious it was, they were like, ‘Oh, let me throw this flag.’ Which is understandable.”
Coach John Harbaugh saw the play similarly and backed up his player.
“Earl’s closing, Mason’s going forward,” Harbaugh said. “Gets him right on the chin, like a boxing glove. I’m absolutely certain he wasn’t trying to hit him in the head. It’s fast, he’s closing and Mason’s running.”
Rudolph was down on the field for several minutes unconscious before he was helped to his feet and taken off the field.
Players on both teams joined on the field to pray for Rudolph, who left the field to a standing ovation.
Thomas, despite Rudolph's injury, still feels he didn’t do anything wrong. He was just trying to hit the quarterback.
“It was a weird sight,” Thomas said. “I quickly went over to his teammate and said, ‘Hey, bro, I did not mean to do that, that wasn’t intentional at all.’ I was just trying to make a football play.’”
MORE RAVENS NEWS: