|Moral victory: His team loses but Harrison avoids fine in final game of the year. (AP/Getty Images)|
By Ryan Wilson
It took a week, but the Steelers finally have some good news to report. First, safety Troy Polamalu won his appeal for the $10,000 fine he faced for using a cell phone during a game back in October. And now it looks like linebacker James Harrison won't be any lighter in the wallet for his roughing-the-passer penalty on Tim Tebow during Sunday's playoff game.
For folks even half-paying attention to the NFL, Harrison's name is synonymous with words like "dirty" and "suspension." He was fined $100,000 in 2010 for various illegal hits on unsuspecting opponents, and he the league finally suspended him in 2011 after he knocked Browns quarterback Colt McCoy silly.
But we'd like to think that even Harrison's harshest critics can agree that the flag he received for shoving a 250-pound Tebow in the back was taking things a bit far, even for NFL's Public Enemy No. 1.
Of course, no game involving Harrison would be complete if he didn't do something controversial. In the first quarter, the Steelers linebacker went low on Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker. A perfectly legal hit and probably an attempt by Harrison to live within the rules laid down by the league: stay away from the heads and shoulders of defenseless receivers. The only problem: Decker suffered a knee injury, had to be helped from the field, and he won't play this weekend, either.
Still, even Broncos vice president of football operations John Elway didn't have an issue with Harrison's play.
"Because of the fact that he's been fined so often, [Harrison] really had no other option. ... I don't think he intended to hurt Eric. But obviously because of the situations he's been in, he had to go low and stay away from the head. And it ended up costing an MCL sprain for Eric."
So while the officials may have wrongly penalized Harrison for his hit on Tebow, they also missed at least two facemask penalties committed against the Dever quarterback. Ultimately, it didn't matter. The Broncos' from-outta-nowhere high-powered aerial assault wasn't fazed by a couple no-calls or, for that matter, fancy new overtime rules. Next up: the New England Patriots who, if we're being honest, would've much rather faced the Steelers this weekend.
In other "hey, we aren't getting fined?!" news, the NFL confirmed to ProFootballTalk.com that Cincinnati’s Reggie Nelson, Houston’s Antonio Smith, Detroit’s Amari Spievey and the New York Giants’ Jacquian Williams, all flagged for personal-foul penalties last weekend, won't be required to write the league a check for their actions.
After an impressive overtime win over the Steelers last week, Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos will face off against the New England Patriots on Saturday. Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan have the preview. Watch the game on CBS at 8 PM ET.
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