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NFL: Hit on Bengals punter Kevin Huber illegal

Kevin Huber  AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Cincinnati Bengals punter Kevin Huber averaged 45.7 yards on 66 punts this season. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The hit that ended Cincinnati Bengals punter Kevin Huber's season should have been a 15-yard penalty, the NFL said Tuesday.

Huber suffered a broken jaw and was placed on injured reserve after a punt return touchdown by Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown when linebacker Terence Garvin delivered a block on Huber that helped Brown score during Sunday night's game.

No flag was called on the play and the Steelers went on to win the game 30-20.

"This is an illegal block. It should have been a flag for a 15-yard penalty," Dean Blandino, the NFL's vice president of officiating said on NFL Network. "You'll see the close up where you can see the contact to the head or neck area. So this will certainly be a point of emphasis this week, especially with our referees who are responsible for the punter on plays like this. "We have to watch the punter, he's defenseless. And we want to flag hits like that."

Blandino said that because Huber is a punter, he is defenseless throughout the entire play.

"So even though he's pursuing the play, he still gets defenseless-player protection. You can't hit him in the head or neck, and you can't use the crown or forehead parts of the helmet to the body," Blandino said.
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