The NFL will announce by Wednesday that, effective this weekend, even first-time offenders face suspension for "devastating hits" and "head shots," according to Ray Anderson, the league's executive vice president of football operations.
"We can't and won't tolerate what we saw Sunday," Anderson said Monday. "We've got to get the message to players that these devastating hits and head shots will be met with a very necessary higher standard of accountability. We have to dispel the notion that you get one free pass in these egregious or flagrant shots."
Anderson was alluding to the normal disciplinary measures in which the league has issued fines for first-time offenders and, very often, second-time offenders.
"What we saw Sunday was disturbing," Anderson said. "We're talking about avoiding life-altering impacts."
Sunday's games produced a number of violent hits.
The Eagles' DeSean Jackson and the Falcons' Dunta Robinson were knocked out of their game after a frightening collision in which Robinson launched himself head first into Jackson. Both sustained concussions, and Jackson is not expected to play in Week 7.
Ravens tight end Todd Heap took a vicious hit from Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather that Heap called "one of those hits that shouldn't happen." The team was in contact with the league about the tackle.
Steelers linebacker James Harrison sidelined two Browns players with head injuries after jarring hits. An NFL spokesman said one of the tackles, on Josh Cribbs, was legal. The Browns were more upset about Harrison's hit on Mohamed Massaquoi, which the league is reviewing.
Anderson would not speculate earlier Monday on how many players would be punished for hits from the past Sunday's games. Players also can be ejected from games for illegal hits, but that's rare.
Chris Mortensen is the senior NFL analyst for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.