Here's another example of why quarterbacks shouldn't go after defensive players on a turnover unless it's absolutely, positively necessary.
Early in last night's 34-17 win over the Steelers, Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton attempted to tackle Steelers defensive end James Harrison on a fumble return. As Harrison was rumbling toward the left sideline, Orton ran over and attempted to dive at Harrison to bring him down.
Just before Harrison was going out of bounds, the Steelers' defender lowered himself to run into Orton. On the play, Orton was shaken up, although not seriously.
"I don't know if I hit him or he hit me," Orton said afterward.
Harrison made no apologies on the play.
"He was running his mouth and getting in the way of the train," Harrison said. "And the train wasn't coming off the track."
Harrison said Orton was actually talking smack before the play.
"He was popping off down there the first time they were about to score," Harrison said, referring to the Broncos' game-opening touchdown drive. "So you run your mouth, expect to get something. Everything's between the lines, so he got what he had coming."
Orton told a different timeline. He said he didn't say anything derogatory to Harrison until after they met.
"Yeah, I said something after he hit me," Orton said.
The capper: The play was overturned from a fumble by receiver Jabar Gaffney to an incomplete pass. Imagine if the Broncos' season had come unglued if Orton was seriously injured?
Sorry, but I can't blame Harrison in this instance. When you look at the play, it is clear that Orton has no desire to tackle Harrison high, instead launching himself toward Harrison's lower body. So if Harrison felt he was being threatened with a low hit, I see nothing wrong with trying to protect himself by going low on Orton.
I flash back to Brady Quinn's low block on Ravens defensive end Terrell Suggs as proof. Quinn went right at Suggs' knees, and wound up hurting the star pass rusher's knee. So there's no way Harrison should be chided for protecting himself by reacting to Orton's would-be tackle the way he did.