PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers special teams coordinator Danny Smith has learned a lot in his 47 years of coaching, but there’s one thing that he has yet to figure out.
“I’ve gotta learn to get the hell out of the way,” Smith said on Thursday after he took a huge hit from Steelers safety Damontae Kazee, courtesy of Green Bay tackle Zach Tom, on the final play of Sunday’s 23-19 win over the Packers.
Kazee was headed out of bounds after intercepting Packers quarterback Jordan Love on the final play of regulation. Tom gave him a shove from behind, propelling Kazee into the 70-year-old coach.
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“I don’t know what happened aside from that I do know I got tackled out of bounds,” Kazee said. “It was just uncalled for. I’ve been an injured guy, I’m just trying to stay healthy.”
Smith said he tore three muscles in his right rotator cuff when he fell, and he wouldn’t have been able to get out of the way of the scrum that developed over top of him if not for a timely rescue by tight end Rodney Williams, who pulled him out before he could be trampled.
“He’s done a good job, and not only that, I’m gonna have a hard time sitting him down,” Smith said. “I needed him. I couldn’t get up. When I landed on my shoulder, it went numb and I couldn’t get off the ground. I got trampled a couple times, but I couldn’t get off the ground. I rolled over on my back and when I rolled over on my back, he slid me out.”
Smith said he’s taken some hard hits during his time on the sideline over the years, and this one was up there.
“I got hit in college at a Clemson-Georgia Tech game, got a tibial plateau fracture,” he said. “I got a plate and six screws in my knee. I had that hit in training camp with (Antonio Brown), broke my rib, my L1 vertebrae in my back and my finger. That hurt. This one hurt.”
Of course, the big question for Smith was if he lost his trademarked wad of bubble gum during the hit.
“No,” he said. “But I should have stuck it on my shoulder. I would have been better off.”