A review of the
play on tape shows that as Steelers center Jeff Hartings takes one last look,
Scott is to Hartings's left, in the middle of the defense. But when the center
puts his head down, Scott runs to Hartings's right, all the way to the outside
of the defensive front, on what is called a naked edge. "Now they're
outflanked," says Scott. "And they're going to have to make some hard
decisions about who to block."
At the snap
Pittsburgh right tackle Max Starks steps back as if to block onrushing
Baltimore linebacker Adalius Thomas. Instead, Thomas drops into zone coverage,
leaving Starks unoccupied while Scott begins his blitz sprint. It's too late
for Starks to slide out and block Scott, who has a free run at Roethlisberger.
Best of all for Baltimore, Roethlisberger is looking left and doesn't see
Scott. "I've got a free shot with 15 yards of steam, and he doesn't know
I'm coming," says Scott. "Once in a lifetime."
Scott chops his
steps briefly when Roethlisberger raises the ball as if to throw, but after Big
Ben pulls the ball back down, Scott lowers his helmet and plows his face mask
and right shoulder into the quarterback at the Steelers' six-yard line.
Roethlisberger's head folds forward over Scott's shoulder and then snaps back.
Scott drives through the hit with his feet churning, sending Big Ben onto his
back, his legs flopping inertly.
weightless, like I hit him in outer space," says Scott. "I heard him
make this ungh sound, like air rushing out. I jumped up and did my bird dance,
then looked back and saw Ben was still down, and I'm like, Yeah, I knocked him
out of the game. But you hope he's not seriously hurt. Look, Ben is a big guy.
That's what made it better for me. I laid a man out, a man who outweighs me.
And he will never forget it."
who sat out for two plays before returning for the next series, declined to be
interviewed at length about the shot but said through a Steelers' spokesman,
"It was a great hit."
football--in all football--machismo readily trumps common sense. A player
rendered senseless by a crushing hit thinks two things: Get up, and don't show
weakness. Much blame has been directed by the media and by damaged former
players at coaches for pressuring athletes to play while injured, specifically
after suffering concussions. While the criticism is fair, players often refuse
to acknowledge their own compromised condition.
blacks out," says Eagles cornerback Lito Sheppard. "Anybody who is
playing football at this level and says he has never played blacked out is
lying. You get hit, and you're out on your feet. But as a man, you get up
because you don't want your homeboys seeing you down on the ground, crawling
around. You have to show no fear, no damage. By the next play, you start to
come back around. Not to say that you have all your senses, but you stay out
On a play several
years ago Strahan came clean across the line of scrimmage, turned to rush the
quarterback and was hit in the temple area of his helmet by 6' 3",
221-pound Redskins wideout Michael Westbrook. The force knocked Strahan, 6'
5" and 255, straight to the ground, where he landed on the other side of
his head. "I was out of it," says Strahan. "But Westbrook is
standing over me, shouting, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah,' and pointing at me. So I
bounced up like nothing was wrong. I came out of the huddle for the next play,
and I'm thinking, Just don't run the play this way, because I haven't recovered
yet. I don't think I can handle that yet."
says he has played significant portions of games in a cloud, induced not only
by head blows but also by sheer exhaustion. "Early in my career we played a
game against Dallas, and I still can't remember the last three series," he
says. "I caught passes and made plays, and guys told me I was cussing up a
storm in the huddle. I don't remember any of it."