Steelers' Ward fined for 'heinous' late hit on Browns' Holly

Updated: September 15, 2007, 7:10 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Cleveland Browns cornerback Daven Holly took offense to the late hit laid on him by Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward in last week's season opener.

The league agreed, and took $5,000 out of Ward's paycheck.

Long regarded as one of the NFL's best and most physical blockers at the wide receiver position, Ward has been fined $5,000 for unnecessary roughness for a play that Holly termed "a heinous act," and one that left the third-year cornerback with a concussion.

It is not known if Ward, a 10-year veteran and one of the most respected players in the league, will appeal the fine.

Ward called the play "a clean hit that just came a little late."

The play in question came with 3:18 remaining in the third quarter, and Pittsburgh leading 24-7 in what would be a 34-7 victory. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed a 17-yard pass to tailback Najeh Davenport and Ward, blocking downfield, hit Holly from behind.

Ward was assessed a 15-yard personal foul for a hit that knocked Holly unconscious for a short time. Holly subsequently got to his feet and left the field with some assistance. The Steelers then scored on the ensuing play, on Roethlisberger's 22-yard pass to tight end Heath Miller.

"I don't feel like it was a respectable shot," Holly told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer this week.

The cornerback missed one day of practice, by Friday seemed to be fine, and is expected to play in Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

In another incident, the league has fined Buffalo defensive end Chris Kelsay $5,000 for a hit on Denver quarterback Jay Cutler last week. The hit, which appeared to be helmet-to-helmet contact, did not draw a flag.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.