New England Patriots defensive back Brandon Meriweather said Monday his helmet-to-helmet hit on Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap on Sunday was not intentional and that the fine that’s likely coming from the NFL won’t alter his aggressive approach to the game.
“I’m going to be aggressive, point blank,” Meriweather said during his weekly interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI. “I won’t change my game, period. I’m sorry it happened. Heap is actually a real good friend of mine. I talked to him yesterday and let him know it wasn’t intentional and he told me he understood.”
Meriweather was flagged for a second-quarter hit on Heap, who lay on the field being attended to by Ravens medical personnel for several minutes before getting up under his own power. Heap was leaping for a Joe Flacco pass that had sailed over his head when Meriweather thrust himself, helmet-first, into the Ravens’ tight end.
Meriweather said he went for the hit because he thought Heap was going to come down with the pass.
“We ran that play a thousand times at practice,” Meriweather said. “Every time at practice I broke on the ball and the tight end caught it every time. I thought it was going to be overthrown but the tight end always seemed to go and get it. Instead of me waiting for the ball to see if it was going to be overthrown I just attacked. I wasn’t trying to for head-to-head contact, or trying to injury anybody, or play dirty in any kind of way. It just happened."
Meriweather, who said he has not yet heard from the NFL about a fine, agreed with the notion introduced by WEEI host Dale Arnold that had he stayed back on the play he could have intercepted the pass.
“You always have to make a split-second decision and my split-second decision was to be aggressive and not wait for it,” Meriweather said.
Even if you try to avoid helmet-to-helmet hits, Meriweather explained, sometimes they are not preventable.
“You never know what someone is gong to do,” Meriweather said. “You can try to go with your shoulder, but what if they move the same way you move, then it’s still going to be head to head. There’s a million different ways you can get head to head contact. You just gotta play aggressive. When things happen like that you just pray that nobody gets hurt.”
In the wake of Meriweather’s hit, and several others like it Sunday, NBC analyst -- and former Patriots defensive back -- Rodney Harrison suggested the only way to cut back on helmet-to-helmet hits in the NFL is with suspensions, not fines.
"You didn't get my attention when you fined me five grand, 10 grand, 15 grand," Harrison said on NBC's "Football Night in America" set Sunday. "You got my attention when I got suspended, and I had to get away from my teammates, and I disappointed my teammates from not being there."
“Hot Rod has his opinion on a lot of things, but I think if he was still playing he would have never said anything like that."