RENTON — Golden Tate and Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll thought the crunching block the receiver put on Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee was clean. The NFL apparently thought otherwise.
No flag was thrown on the block, which helped spring Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson for a 14-yard run, but on Wednesday the league fined Tate $21,000, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. Carroll confirmed the fine on a radio interview with Sports Radio KJR and said Tate would appeal the decision.
Lee, who was quickly able to return to the game after being checked out on the sideline, was considered a defenseless player when Tate hit him with a crack-back block. Defenseless players cannot be hit in the head or neck area, nor can the person delivering the blow lead with the crown of his helmet. Tate said he aimed for Lee’s chest, and photos show his shoulder hitting Lee in the body, but the top of Tate’s helmet did get up under Lee’s chin.
Asked after the game if he thought he was going to be penalized for the hit — a flag was thrown on the play, but it was for a shove on Wilson as he ran out of bounds — Tate said he didn’t think the hit was illegal.
“I knew that I didn’t hit him in his helmet,” Tate said. “I knew that I hit him somewhere in his mid section, but the rules change so much that you never really know if it’s a rule this year or not. I’m happy that it wasn’t (a penalty).”
After the game Tate wrote on Twitter that he was glad Lee was OK and that he wasn’t trying to injure the linebacker. After reviewing the game tape, Carroll said Monday that he thought the hit was legal.
“I don’t think he could have done it any cleaner,” Carroll said. “It was very physical, but he didn’t hit the guy in the head and he didn’t hit him with his helmet. … That’s the idea and the guy jumped up and he was okay. It wasn’t a long run where you see the coming from 15 yards back, he turned saw the guy and banged him. It was more him (Lee) getting caught off guard than anything.”
Lee did tell reporters in the Dallas locker room that he did not take a blow to the head.
“My head didn’t hurt at all, even after the hit,” Lee said. “More it was about losing breath, catching my breath.”