It was a vicious strike, a blow to Matt Schaub that knocked the Houston Texan quarterback’s helmet off and extracted a piece of his ear. Joe Mays of the Denver Broncos delivered it, and the NFL hit back for Schaub Tuesday.
The league assessed a $50,000 fine and suspended Mays for a game for the blow which was deemed helmet-to-helmet.
Mays is appealing the suspension, a source told ESPN.
When asked after the game whether he expected to be fined, Mays said: “Oh yeah. I’m expecting that. But it was not my intention to do that.”
On Monday, Broncos coach John Fox defended Mays’ brutal hit on Schaub that cost the quarterback a chunk of his ear.
“I know this: He doesn’t do it intentionally to hurt him,” Fox said. “That’s not Joe Mays. That’s not what we teach. It’s accidental. Playing football. You see it around the league every week.”
Schaub went through his normal Monday routine and looked “fine” the day after losing a bit of his left ear lobe.
Schaub still tied a career high with four touchdown passes in the Texans’ 31-25 victory and missed only one snap after Mays dazed him, an answer to anyone who’s questioned his durability in the past.
He went down hard after Mays crashed helmet-first into his jaw in the third quarter on Sunday, just after he’d thrown a deep pass to Andre Johnson.
Schaub’s helmet bounced off, and he immediately covered both ears with his hands after hitting the turf. He walked off the field on his own and told athletic trainer Geoff Kaplan on the bench, “I’m fine.”
“I felt fine,” Schaub said after the game Sunday. “I just lost a piece of my ear. I was bleeding and my helmet came off. So, I had to come out for a play, but I was fine.”
Texans coach Gary Kubiak was watching the pass, which fell incomplete, and didn’t see the hit until he watched the replay of the game back in Houston on Monday.
He wouldn’t say whether he thought it merited a fine for Mays, who earned a roughing the passer penalty.
“Obviously, he took a really good shot there,” Kubiak said. “That’s the league’s job, to sort those things out. Obviously, we protect our players. If we think something is wrong, we turn it into the league, and then they’ve got to go sort that out. We’re just fortunate our guy is fine, and we just move on to the next one.”