Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell has delivered quite a few big hits so far this season and that includes his one this past Sunday on Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray that not only resulted in a fumble, but Murray needing to leave the game for good to be checked for a concussion.
While it appears as though a few Raiders fans took issue with Mitchell’s hit on Murray, the team’s head coach said Monday during his press conference that he had no issue with it whatsoever.
“I thought that was a safety coming to make a tackle,” Jack Del Rio said when asked about the legality of Mitchell’s hit on Murray. “I didn’t see anything malicious, or where the intent was bad. I think those are bang-bang plays in the open field.”
On Monday, Mitchell described in detail the challenges he faces when it comes to hitting opposing players legally as a safety.
“It’s just human nature, no one wants to get hit. This is a very vulnerable area of your body [moves hand around to upper body], so they always tend to duck, Mitchell said, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. “I was getting frustrated with the rule. You always see [offensive players] ducking into the hit. But I’ve learned over the course of the last two or three years experimenting, getting penalties, that if you aim slightly lower, if they do duck, you still kind of catch them in the chest and rib area.
“And if you don’t, it’s like the thigh/upper knee area. You’re not trying to hurt them but you can’t continue to … This is how I earn a living. I don’t want to continue to donate money to the NFL. I don’t want to get 15-yard penalties that penalize and hurt my teammates. I think I’m just trying to play smarter.”
Mitchell has played extremely well so far this season and that has included him forcing two fumbles and intercepting two passes in the Steelers first nine games. He’s currently on pace to record a career-high in total tackles as well.
As for his hit on Murray this past Sunday, Mitchell wished him a speedy return on Twitter after the game.