4 Dirty Steelers Plays That Directly Led to NFL Rule Changes

Is MInkah Fitzpatrick the latest Steelers player to force an NFL rule change?

Minkah Fitzpatrick's hit on Nick Chubb could be the latest dirty Steelers play to lead to an NFL rule change.
Minkah Fitzpatrick's hit on Nick Chubb could be the latest dirty Steelers play to lead to an NFL rule change. / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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4. Helmet-to-Helmet Rule (Ryan Shazier, twice)

Ryan Shazier didn't get the 'honor' of having this rule named after him, but it was put in place as a response to one of his tackles with no less certainty than these other changes.

Once again, the Steelers had a Wild Card showdown with the Bengals and apparently decided to crank things up a notch.

The Steelers were leading the game late in the third quarter, but the Bengals were marching and had the ball on the Steelers’ 23-yard line on their 10th play of the drive when Shazier knocked Bernard out of the game and forced a turnover with a vicious helmet-to-helmet tackle.

Bernard was concussed and it was clear immediately that he was in a bad way, but the Steelers defense decided to celebrate on the field anyway, showing no concern for the injury.

The NFL changed its rule on helmet-to-helmet tackles to no longer only specify them as illegal from certain angles, but rather outlawing leading with the crown of your helmet altogether.

Shazier's tragic career-ending spinal injury came on another head-on tackle years later, which led to yet another rule change.

Maybe the thing that makes it hardest to shake the idea that these plays were dirty and not just accidents? Check out how many of them specifically came against Steelers rivals, and in big games. Considering you only play division rivals in under 40% of your games in a season (and in playoff games as a much lower percentage), the repeated trend is hard to consider a coincidence.

Joey Porter rule? Against the Bengals in the playoffs.
Kimo Von Olehoffen Rule? Against the Bengals in the playoffs.
Hines Ward Rule? Against the Bengals.
Ryan Shazier? Against the Bengals in the playoffs.

And now we have the Minkah Fitzpatrick hit on Nick Chubb coming against the Cleveland Browns.

Really, at the end of the day it doesn't even make a big practical difference if these are intentionally dirty or just careless. If one franchise is causing so many injuries because they can't play football the right way, that's something that needs to be addressed. The same thing just keeps on happening again and again, and it's surprising that the Steelers have managed to largely avoid criticism for it on the national stage.