Lions safety Kerby Joseph gives his side of controversial playoff play

In a recent interview, Lions safety Kerby Joseph offered his side of the controversial hit on Rams' tight end Tyler Higbee.

David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Late in the Lions' Wild Card playoff win over the Rams. safety Kerby Joseph hit Rams' tight end Tyler Higbee very low. Joseph drew some automatic ire for the hit, not the least of which could have (should have been) how he could have injured himself on the play.

Teammates, most notably perhaps linebacker Alex Anzalone, defended Joseph on the premise of how the league leaves defenders in Joseph's situation no choice but to go low. Anzalone's additional comment about the hit being a deterrent for such plays against the Lions' defense in the future was wrong-headed, as he also placed blame on Rams' quarterback Matthew Stafford for even making the throw.

For his part, Stafford was mic'd up for the game and was captured calling Joseph "dirty as f*ck." Naturally, Joseph did not agree and said he is "used to being called the villain."

Kerby Joseph gives his side of the story about Tyler Higbee hit

In a recent interview with Chris Castellani on the "Chris and Company" podcast, Joseph talked more about the hit on Higbee.

"First off, I want to say prayers out to that boy and his family, ‘cause I know I got some heat from that hit," Joseph said. "It’s all cool, I ain’t really tripping on it. But I made the play, and I was kind of, not necessarily gonna say happy but I was up about making the play. I didn’t know he was messed up how he was, but that was a crucial play in the game. If they got that play, then it’s game over for us. I had to make that play and I was excited that I made that play. I got up and then Matthew Stafford came at me. It was crazy because, at first, I’m up, celebrating with my team. And then I hear, ‘Hey, that’s a good hit.’" 

Joseph said he initially though the "hey that's a good hit" he heard was coming from a teammate. But it was Stafford, who continued with the "dirty" comment.

Joseph also channeled Anzalone by blaming Stafford for making the throw at all.

"When I heard it, I was just shocked. I’m like, bro, I’ve got to tackle him," Joseph explained. "In my head, I’m saying, if you’ve seen it on film, you should’ve never thrown it because you saw me see him open. You’ve got to do a better job protecting your guy. You’ve seen me back there when I’m locked in. I’m playing the game too.” 

To be honest, Stafford did not make a perfect throw to Higbee on the fateful play. But the idea he should not have made the throw at all, and to blame him for Higbee suffering a torn ACL, is a cop-out, used by Anzalone and now Joseph.

Even in defending Joseph a few days after the play, after seeing it on film, Lions' head coach Dan Campbell called out the poor tackling form.

...just keep your head up, see what you hit," Campbell said. "That will always be what I tell Kerby. Just keep your eyes up so you don't hit on the crown of your helmet. You (compress) your spine, you mess yourself up there. Just see what you hit...."

Ultimately, what's done is done. Higbee suffered a major injury on a semi-controversial play, and Joseph was truly fortunate to not injure himself severely making the low hit.


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