Despite how it looked to those with a distinct rooting interest in the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets defensive end Henry Anderson insists his blind-side hit on Stephen Hauschka wasn't dirty.
During an appearance Tuesday on former punter Pat McAfee's show in a court-themed segment called "Attempted Murder of a Kicker," Anderson, a former teammate of McAfee's, said, "I would like to plead my case to you and say that was a totally legal and fair play."
Anderson acknowledged that he "got a lot of Bills fans coming at me saying that was a dirty play." He also has drawn negative responses from coach Sean McDermott and Hauschka's wife. After Hauschka's 49-yard field-goal attempt just before halftime was blocked, Anderson hit the kicker as the Jets tried running back the recovery. Hauschka suffered a hip injury and is listed as day to day.
"If I blocked him in the back, he would have fallen forward and on his face from it," Anderson said on the program. "The way I hit him, I hit him on the side and extended my left arm out to make him fall backward and on his butt. The block in the back is not true because … he wasn’t falling forward at all."
Anderson also said that Hauschka made a move toward the ball-carrier and that led to the hit.
"When the guy who picked up the fumble reversed field, he started angling toward the ball carrier and started positioning himself," Anderson said. "He wasn’t in a dead sprint or anything, but he was working his way to cut him off and to try to make the tackle. I saw that and I know as a defensive player, the defensive coaches always tell you that the kickers are kind of under the same umbrella as quarterbacks. If they are trying to stay out of the play, you’re not supposed to tough them because they are protected by the rules. If they start making their way and positioning themselves to make a play on the ball, they are fair game and you can hit them.
"He almost slide-tackled one of our kick returners earlier in the game. If I don’t make a block there and he ends up somehow making that tackle then I’m going to get chewed out by (special teams coach) Brant Boyer. I figured that I would rather hit the kicker legally and within the rulebook then not hit him at all and potentially get chewed out by our special teams coach. I didn’t hit him helmet to helmet, I didn’t lower my head and spear him, I didn’t launch my body at him. I put my shoulder into him and extended my arms into him.
According to Anderson, the hit looked worse than it was because of the disparity in weight between him and Hauschka.
"The fact that he was that much lighter than I am made it look like I hit him that much harder than I did," Anderson said. "I’m close to 300 and I’m assuming he’s close to 200. If I was really trying to (mess him up), I could have put a whole lot more force behind that hit … and done a lot more damage than I did. … I understand some of the Bills fans' anger and frustration, but it’s within the rulebook."
McAfee added, "Hauschka has to keep his head on a swivel. There is a danger zone on special teams." He concluded by determining Anderson is "completely innocent of any disrespect for the brand."
Hauschka's wife, Lindsey, took to Twitter to address the exchange between McAfee and Anderson, saying, "This is everything that's wrong with football. Laughing about seriously injuring another human being is disgusting. @HenryAnderson91 & @PatMcAfeeShow should be ashamed."
McAfee responded with: "Mrs Hauschka. I am a huge fan of your husband. I think he has kicked balls incredibly for a long time.. I’ve been blindsided before, also blocked on a regular basis.. I think your husband has to respect the thought that @HenryAnderson91 was scared of his athleticism."
• • •
The Bills announced Tuesday they have placed cornerback Taron Johnson and linebacker Matt Milano on injured reserve, ending the season for both players. Johnson underwent shoulder surgery last week, while Milano underwent surgery to repair a broken fibula he sustained in Sunday's loss against the New York Jets.