The Pittsburgh Steelers suffered another brutal loss in Week 15. Before things got out of hand and the Colts scored 30 unanswered points, it looked like Mike Tomlin's team was going to stick around. There were some crazy moments in this game, but none was bigger (or more controversial) than Damontae Kazee's bone-rattling hit on Colts WR Michael Pittman Jr.
Halfway through the second quarter, the Colts QB lofted a pass on a deep corner route down the field to Pittman. Unfortunately, this play ended with a scary collision that could be heard from the nosebleed section of the stadium.
Kazee was immediately tossed from the game following the replay, as Pittman took a scary blow to the head and neck area and his body bent backward in an unnatural way.
But an ejection and a lofty fine coming his way wasn't the only punishment handed out to the Steelers' safety. On Monday afternoon, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported that Kazee has been suspended for the remainder of the season due to his unnecessary hit on Pittman in Week 15.
The NFL issued a statement regarding the decision to suspend Kazee without pay for the final three games of the season (and potentially the postseason as well if the Steelers were to make it into the playoffs).
The NFL determined that Kazee forcibly hit a defenseless player in the head and neck area. This isn't the first time Kazee has gotten in trouble for an illegal hit on the field. In fact, this is actually the fifth time he has been fined this season.
Fortunately, Michael Pittman was eventually able to get up and walk off the field under his own power, but he was quickly ruled out for the game. As for Kazee, he won't be suiting up for another game this year.
Was the punishment for Damontae Kazee justified?
We know why the NFL is all about player safety, and we don't want to see anyone risk potential lifelong injury. Back in 2017, Ryan Shazier suffered a season-ending spinal injury on a tackle that looked far less severe than the blow Kazee laid on Pittman, and he was never able to walk the same after that unfortunate moment.
However, many Steelers fans are making the case that this season-long suspension is not justified. For the most part, these fans agree that Kazee should have been penalized and possibly even tossed from the game, but many of them did not envision an additional suspension for this hit.
The NFL is setting a precedent here that flying in and hitting defenseless receivers will not be tolerated. It's unfortunate that Damontae Kazee had to learn this lesson the hard way, but we can be thankful that Pittman was able to get up from that brutal hit. The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without their starting safety and will look to a committee to help them in the secondary for the final three games of the 2023 season.