Titans safety Johnathan Cyprien, who delivered a head-to-head hit on Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce that knocked Kelce out of the Wild Card game with a concussion last Saturday, has not been fined or suspended for the hit, The Star has learned.
Kelce left the game late in the second quarter due to the hit, which came on the tail end of a 12-yard catch-and-run. No penalty was called.
The Chiefs went on to score on the drive anyway, taking a 21-3 lead into halftime, but without Kelce on the field they were outscored 19-0 the rest of the way.
After the game, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Kelce likely would have played in the divisional-round game this weekend against New England, had the Chiefs won.
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“He seems good,” Reid said. “I think he probably would have been alright for the upcoming week if we would have gone that direction.”
The NFL has fined and suspended players for head-to-head hits before. In October, Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo was fined and suspended a game for what the league dubbed a violation of safety-related playing rules: he delivered a blow that gave Ravens receiver Mike Wallace a concussion as Wallace was going to the ground.
In his letter to Sendejo, NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan cited a violation of Rule 12, Section 2, Article 6 of the league’s rulebook that states: “There shall be no unneccessary roughness. This shall include, but will not be limited to: (i) using any part of a player’s helmet or facemask to butt, spear, or ram an opponent violently or unnecessarily.”
In his letter to Sendejo, Runyan also wrote:
“The violation was flagrant and warrants a suspension because it could have been avoided, was violently directed at the head and neck area and unreasonably placed both you and an opposing player at risk of serious injury.”
Sendejo, unlike Cyprien, was whistled for unnecessary roughness at the time, though even that call doesn’t always lead to a suspension. Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso was whistled for unnecessary roughness and fined for a hit on Joe Flacco in late October and was not suspended.
Both of those, however, were generally violations of safety-related rules involving contact to a defenseless player. In Kelce’s instance, he was not considered defenseless because he’d become a runner and was deemed capable of avoiding or warding off the impending contact of Cyprien.