Longtime NFL defensive tackle Haloti Ngata returned to Baltimore on Wednesday to officially retire as a member of the Baltimore Ravens. During his press conference, Ngata was asked if he had a favorite hit, sack or tackle during the nine seasons he played with the Ravens and it didn’t take him long to come up with an answer.
“I think you saw in the highlight, breaking Ben’s nose,” Ngata said which was quickly met with some laughs from several of those in attendance. “I mean, I didn’t do it on purpose, but it kind of just happened.”
Ngata is obviously referencing him breaking the nose of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during a sack early in a 2010 Week 13 Sunday night game in Baltimore against the Ravens. That play happened on a 3rd and 8 from the Baltimore 44 yard-line with 12:24 left in the first quarter and Ngata shared the sack linebacker Terrell Suggs.
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After taking a hit to the nose from Ngata’s left hand, Roethlisberger got up off the ground and then doubled over as the blood instantly began to flow his injury. After making his way over to the Steelers sideline, the television NBC cameras zoomed in on Roethlisberger’s bleeding nose and it was at that point that one could tell it was clearly broken.
After getting his nose reset by the Steelers medical staff on the sideline, Roethlisberger returned to the Sunday night game without even missing a snap. The Steelers quarterback went on to complete 22 of his 38 total pass attempts in that Sunday night game against the Ravens for 253 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
That loan Roethlisberger touchdown pass in that game against the Ravens went to running back Isaac Redman from 9 yards out with 2:51 left in the fourth quarter to put the Steelers ahead 13-10 and they ultimately won by that score. Ngata, by the way, ended that game with four total tackles and the half a sack.
Quite honestly, Ngata probably should have been penalized for his hit to Roethlisberger’s nose on that play, but the Steelers quarterback obviously received no such call, which has been par for the course for him throughout most of his NFL career.
“Well, I can hear them screaming all the way from Pittsburgh here,” Cris Collinsworth of NBC Sports said while reviewing the hit by Ngata to the nose Roethlisberger. “All the fines, all the penalties on Steelers players – here’s a direct hit to helmet of Roethlisberger, looks like it may have, at the very least, changed the shape of his nose, no penalty, no foul.”
Roethlisberger said after the game that he had asked referee Terry McAuley why there was no penalty on Ngata called on that play in question and was told, “He was just trying to tackle you.”
For whatever it’s worth, Ngata was fined $15,000 one day after the game for striking a defenseless Roethlisberger in the head. By the sound of Ngata on Wednesday, iit was worth every penny for him to illegally hit Roethlisberger in the face and break his nose. You would think the Ravens ultimately losing that 2010 game to the Steelers would result in Ngata naming a favorite play he made from a Baltimore win, but that wasn’t the case.
Ngata, who was originally drafted by the Ravens in the first-round of the 2006 NFL draft out Oregon, plated a total of 13 seasons in the NFL. 2018 was his final season in the NFL and he spent it with the Philadelphia Eagles after playing the previous three seasons with the Detroit Lions. Ngata registered 515 total regular season tackles during his NFL career and 32.5 sacks, 5 interceptions and 7 forced fumbles.