OWINGS MILLS – It was an extremely expensive night for the Baltimore Ravens with $55,000 in fines assessed by the league office.
Inside linebacker Jameel McClain was fined $40,000 by the NFL for his concussion-causing hit on Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller, according to league spokesman Corry Rush.
McClain was fined for an "illegal hit to the head of a defenseless receiver," during the Steelers’ 13-10 win Sunday night at M&T Bank Stadium.
McClain is due a $470,000 base salary, so the fine represents 11.75 percent of his compensation. The former undrafted free agent is paid roughly $27,657 per game check, so the $40,000 fine is significant.
Meanwhile, Ravens Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was fined $15,000 for his hit on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that broke his nose, "striking the head of a defenseless quarterback."
Director of officiating Carl Johnson said that McClain should have been penalized for the hit.
"Last night we confirmed Jameel McClain’s hit to head of Heath Miller should have been flagged," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote on his Twitter account. "Today we r confirming McClain will be fined."
McClain declined comment on the play after the game.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh defended McClain’s actions.
"I think the big issue, from our perspective, is what Jameel is capable of doing and what he’s not capable of doing," Harbaugh said. "Jameel tried to go low. He tried to go low to make the tackle, and Heath Miller fell. So he’s going down, and as Jameel is trying to go low to make the tackle in that strike-zone area, his head ends up in that area.
"So there’s nothing that Jameel could have done that was humanly possible to avoid that kind of contact. Now if they’re going to call that a penalty because they can’t tell that it’s a duck-and-hit type of situation, that’s up to them. But from a fine perspective, to me, it’s clear that Jameel was trying to go low."
Harbaugh referenced middle linebacker Ray Lewis’ hit on Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie last season in the AFC divisional playoff round. Lewis was flagged for a personal foul, but wasn’t fined.
He said he couldn’t envision a scenario where McClain should be suspended.
"So I don’t think it should be a fine based on the way it’s been explained to me time and time again by [NFL executive director of football operations] Ray Anderson and others in the league," Harbaugh said. "And I’m not afraid to go on record and say that because that’s the way it’s been explained. They may say differently and I may learn something from it. But to take it to the next level there would be absolutely no chance of that."
HEAP EXPECTED TO MISS TEXANS GAME: Tight end Todd Heap could be sidelined for next Monday night’s game against the Houston Texans due to a hamstring pull, according to Harbaugh.
Heap pulled his hamstring on the first play from scrimmage Sunday night while running a fly pattern, immediately grabbing the back of his right leg.
"I think Todd is probably the one we really are concerned about," Harbaugh said. "I don’t want to rule him out yet, but it doesn’t look good for next week. It’s one of those hamstring pulls that’s going to be tough. The young guys are going to have to step up."
Harbaugh said he doesn’t think it will be a season-ending injury based on his conversations with head trainer Bill Tessendorf.
"I don’t think so," he said. "That’s not something Bill told me. We’ll have to see. I think we’ll know in three or four days and see how it responds in the next couple of days."
Rookie tight end Ed Dickson caught three passes for 22 yards in relief of Heap, but had a key dropped pass early in the game.
L. MCCLAIN EXPECTED BACK: The Ravens expect to get back Pro Bowl fullback Le’Ron McClain for the Texans game.
He was scratched Sunday due to a sprained ankle.
"He was close Sunday and maybe he was right, maybe he could have gotten through it healthy," Harbaugh said. "We don’t know that, but he’ll be back for sure this week."
STICKING BY HIS GUNS: One day later, Harbaugh said he had no regrets about going for a first down late in the game rather than have kicker Billy Cundiff try a 49-yard field goal in the final minute.
Joe Flacco’s pass fell incomplete.
Cundiff wanted to go for it.
"Billy’s going to feel that way as a kicker," Harbaugh said. "Since I called timeout, I had a chance to think about it. We hadn’t made a kick in pregame over 48 yards. The wind, I thought, was a little stronger towards the end of the game than it was early in the game, and it was colder than it was in pregame.
"I really felt that we had a better chance to get the first down on fourth-and-2 than we had of kicking that field goal. If we complete the pass, obviously, we’ve got a shorter field goal, we’ve got a catch-and-run opportunity. So I feel like that was the right decision. You always look back and question yourself, but that would have been a tough one to make."
Meanwhile, Harbaugh said he didn’t have any second thoughts about going for a fake punt during the first quarter.
The play looked like it was going to work, but special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo committed a false start.
"There’s basically certain areas where teams give you certain things that you can run stuff against," Harbaugh said. "So, you have to be willing to take some chances, and we felt like we had it. If you look at the tape, he did have it. It’s just a shame that we couldn’t get it done as far as starting too early with that false start."
QUICK HITS: It was a rough game for offensive tackle Michael Oher, who was flagged twice for false starts and once for holding. He also struggled in pass protection. "He had a tough night with the false starts and the holding penalty," Harbaugh said. "That was something that hurt us." … The Texans conducted a practice and released the following injury report. Not practicing Monday: wide receiver Andre Johnson (sprained ankle), defensive end Mario Williams (sports hernia), offensive tackle Eric Winston (shoulder), offensive guard Mike Brisiel (shoulder). Meanwhile, tight end Owen Daniels (hamstring) returned to practice. Tight end Joel Dreessen (ribs) also practiced. … Cornerback Lardarius Webb turned in a 35-yard punt return against the Steelers. "The guys have just been working so hard this week to block," Webb said. "They just did a great job of blocking. That’s something we worked on all week. The guys say if I run and do my thing they’re going to block their butt off. That’s just what they do. I got to give it up to the guys up front for blocking for me. Yes, it’s coming along. I did it in college. Now, it’s becoming more comfortable each week." … The Ravens would like to get wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth more involved. He had a 67-yard reception against the Steelers. "Yeah, you do want to get him more touches," Harbaugh said. "Donte’ does bring the speed element. He’s a guy that can get downfield, over the top, across the field, all those things with his speed."