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No Fine for Minkah Fitzpatrick on Baffling Roughing the Passer Call



Steelers Minkah Fitzpatrick
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick on Sept. 10, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The NFL will not levy a fine against Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick for roughing the passer penalty against Jimmy Garoppolo in the team’s 23-18 win in Las Vegas. It was a call that earned scorn from the Steelers locker room, including Fitzpatrick himself, who had no clue what he did wrong on the play. Fitzpatrick came on a free blitz on the play and hit Garoppolo up high. On the play, it appeared that Fitzpatrick may have hit him shoulder to shoulder more than on the head. However, the referees still called the penalty on Fitzpatrick.

The play caught lots of controversy, but the idea remained simple for Minkah Fitzpatrick — he did nothing wrong. The explanation that Fitzpatrick received from the refs was even more perplexing. Fitzpatrick had a simple one-word response when asked if he thought it was a penalty.


When pushed for an explanation of what the refs told him, Fitzpatrick said it was about how he ducked his head into Garappolo when Garappolo braced for contact and lowered his head, thus initiating contact of a helmet-to-helmet hit.

“They said he ducked,” Fitzpatrick said. “They said I hit him in his head and he ducked. That’s what they told me.”

While Fitzpatrick was not dinged for the call, two other Steelers did get fined. Linebacker Kwon Alexander was fined for the second straight week, while Miles Killebrew earned a fine. Alexander’s a repeat offender, costing him $43,709. Over the last two weeks, Alexander has been fined over $80,000, meaning he will play for free in the next two games. Killebrew earned a more modest $13,792 for ducking his head on a special teams play. Alexander has been fined three times, including once in the preseason, but he won an appeal to rescind the foul against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.