December 8, 2023

PITTSBURGH — Speaking for the first time since his tackle of Nick Chubb resulted in a season-ending knee injury for the Cleveland Browns running back, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick emphasized there was no “ill will” behind the play.

Fitzpatrick also said he told Chubb after the play that it “wasn’t intentional.”

“I’m a guy that is a competitor, that’s going to go out there and play the game,” Fitzpatrick said Thursday. “I’m chippy, I’m edgy, of course, but I’m not a dirty player.

“I’m not going to sit here and defend my character. I know the type of player I am. Chubb knows the type of player I am. I played against him for the past five years, two times a year.

“And I love competing against him. He brings the best out of me, and I bring the best out of him. No chance that I would ever try and purposely injure somebody, always. It was an unfortunate event.”

Fitzpatrick came in to assist inside linebacker Cole Holcomb on a tackle of Chubb near the goal line early in the second quarter of Monday night’s win. Fitzpatrick hit Chubb low, and his knee folded in an unnatural direction.

“I didn’t see anybody on [the hole],” Fitzpatrick said. “And I made the decision as soon as I seen the hole open up — and him in the hole — to go low. … It’s a fast game. … You make decisions within milliseconds. You can’t really control what happens after you choose to make your decision. I already chose to go low. Somebody got on his back as I was going low, and what happened, happened; there’s nothing I really would do differently. It’s very unfortunate. Chubb’s a great player. He makes the game a lot better when he’s playing.”

Chubb suffered a season-ending knee surgery and will undergo surgery, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Tuesday. After the game, Fitzpatrick was criticized for the hit on social media.

“We play a physical game where people get hurt,” Fitzpatrick said. “People could sit behind a screen and tell me how I should have done it or what they would’ve done, and they never played the game.”

“I’m a guy that is a competitor, that’s going to go out there and play the game. I’m chippy, I’m edgy, of course, but I’m not a dirty player.”

Minkah Fitzpatrick

He added in direct response to the criticism, “I would say, 1, they never tackled Nick Chubb before. They’re telling you to go high on him.”

Fitzpatrick then explained his thought process in tackling Chubb low, saying it limited his own injury risk.

“If I tackle a guy like Nick Chubb high, he’s running full speed downhill and I’m stationary, I’m going to get ran over and I’m going to get concussed,” Fitzpatrick said. “I know it’s an offensive game and people want to see points, but defensive players are people too. We got to protect ourselves, and when you’re tackling big guys, it’s easier, you take less of a brunt on your body and your head, when you go low.”

Fitzpatrick had the “wind knocked out” of him on the play, and it was aggravated later in the game when he chased down running back Jerome Ford and made a diving tackle. Fitzpatrick was taken to the hospital as a precaution, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said after the game. Although he didn’t practice Wednesday, Fitzpatrick said Thursday that he’s good to go for “Sunday Night Football” against the Las Vegas Raiders.

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