The LA Chargers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Sunday Night Football thriller, 41-37. The Bolts led big in the game and let the Steelers creep back in which several key mistakes, including various penalties that helped the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Luckily, Justin Herbert was able to put the team on his back with four passing touchdowns and the best rushing game of his career. In fact, Herbert became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 350 yards and rush for 90 in the same game.
Herbert's biggest run of the game came with just over nine minutes left in the fourth quarter with the Chargers up seven. On third and five, Herbert escaped the pocket and carried the ball upfield for 36 yards to put the Chargers in the red zone. Pittsburgh's Cam Heyward caught Herbert from behind, tackling him at the 11 to prevent the touchdown.
Heyward was not done there. He decided to lay on top of Herbert and when Joshua Palmer tried to get him off of his quarterback he shoved Palmer back. Then, Heyward decided he was done playing football and wanted to do his best UFC fighter impression, punching Herbert in the stomach before being separated.
You can watch the punch here.
Heyward did pick up a flag for the play that moved the Chargers closer to the endzone but it is important to note that the penalty for this was literally the same if the Chargers were dinged with taunting after a big play. The NFL pretends that it cares about the kids and targets the wrong part of the game.
Punches are also subject to ejections in the league but Heyward was able to stay in the game and made an impact after escaping ejection. He batted up a Justin Herbert pass at the line of scrimmage that led to an interception that actually allowed the Steelers to score a touchdown and tie the game.
He should not have even been in the game. Still, maybe the referees didn't see it and we could at least give them the benefit of the doubt? Nope. The league doubled down on Heyward staying in the game after punching Herbert in the stomach.
The NFL must give Cam Heyward a hefty fine for punching Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert
The league cannot go back in time and kick him out of the game and this offense is not big enough to suspend him for a game in the future, as much as we would love to see it because it was an unnecessary dirty play.
The NFL has a set amount that it fines players for particular instances, but there is not a fine for blanket "unnecessary roughness". It was not roughing the passer as Herbert was running the ball and it was not considered a late hit or a hit on a defenseless player.
For that reason, the league should hammer down the biggest first-offense fine possible": fighting. Fighting and contact with officials are both $36,148 fines for the first offense and that is what Heyward should be given for punching Justin Herbert.
There might not have been a fight that broke out but he was essentially trying to start one by punching the other team's quarterback while they were done. He is lucky nobody on the Chargers seemed to notice what happened because if they did there probably would have been some sort of fight and things would have really escalated.
The league can make this right and prove that they do care about the image of the game by punishing something that is much worse than taunting. It is only fair to Justin Herbert and the LA Chargers.