At the time, Smith was understandably angry, though after the game he conceded that he didn’t know if the hit was intentional. On Monday, Mitchell told reporters that he is not, in fact, a dirty player and can explain what happened on the play.
“I felt myself tripping,” Mitchell said, via SteelCityInsider.net. “I felt myself being pushed. I felt myself losing balance. I was aware of the rule. If you watch the tape, I’m trying to turn my body while I’m falling. Alex is backpedaling into me. I wasn’t even going in the direction of Alex. He actually is throwing and fading away. There are a lot of things that go into the play that make it an accident.”
“The video shows what it shows,” Mitchell continued. “I wasn’t trying to take Smith’s knees out. I went up to him and told him that. If you look back at my statements over the past two or three years, I think I’ve given Alex Smith more credit than anyone in the media before this season. Factcheck that.
“I’m not a dirty player. I’m not out here trying to take his legs out. It’s just one of those things you don’t want to see in a football game. It’s unfortunate that it happened because it ended up kind of flipping our momentum in the field in a significant way. We were in dominant control of that football game, and really before that it really wasn’t interesting from our standpoint.”
Mitchell’s right — the Steelers’ defense manhandled the league’s best offense in the first half and it wasn’t until late in the game that Smith got the Chiefs going. In the end, it wasn’t enough; Pittsburgh prevailed, 19-13. Meanwhile, intentional or otherwise, the NFL will almost certainly fine Mitchell for his personal-foul penalty.