Ranking the NFL's Dirtiest Players at Midseason
Despite the NFL's increased efforts to stop helmet-to-helmet hits, flags are still flying in 2013.
Although players know unnecessary roughness penalties will be called almost any time an official sees the helmet used as a weapon above the shoulders, the brain-rattling strikes are still happening.
However, some players have exhibited especially dirty play this season.
Heading into Week 8, here are the league's dirtiest defenders.
(Warning: You might be surprised where Ndamukong Suh ranks.)
6. C.J. Mosley, Lions
C.J. Mosley hasn't been egregiously dirty this season, but his 15-yard facemask penalty against the Washington Redskins in Week 3 was enough to get him on this list.
Mosley was blocked, so he was only able to reach out and grab the Redskins runner with one arm.
He snagged Morris around the neck and ripped off his helmet as fell to the ground.
After the tackle was made, Mosley got to his feet and stood over Morris. Although the post-play action was subtle, he could have gotten a taunting penalty as well.
5. Ndamukong Suh, Lions
Ndamukong Suh has been the poster child for dirty play in the NFL since 2011. While he's been suspended for despicable play on the field in the past, he's been better in 2013.
In Week 1, he received a $100,000 fine for his chop block on Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman John Sullivan during an interception return.
Suh could have stayed high on Sullivan but instead chose to fall to the ground to take out his legs. The league released this statement after handing down the fine (per ESPN.com): "Suh was penalized for violating Rule 12, Section 2, Article 5 (a), which prohibits blocks below the waist by players of either team after a change of possession."
In Week 6, Suh was hit with a $31,500 fine on a non-penalized hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden that wasn't dirty whatsoever.
4. Kareem Jackson, Texans
Kareem Jackson doesn't have any legitimate track record of dirty hits, but two such plays in particular stand out from the first half of the 2013 season.
Against the Tennessee Titans in Week 2, Jackson left his feet, aimed high and destroyed wideout Kendall Wright as he looked to turn upfield after the ball hit his hands.
The Texans cornerback was hit with an unnecessary roughness penalty.
A week later, Jackson made a form tackle in the flat on Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. After stopping his forward progress, Jackson decided to suplex Baldwin to the ground, which drew another unnecessary roughness flag.
3. Vontaze Burfict, Bengals
Vontaze Burfict has been hit with three unnecessary roughness penalties this season, all of which were highly questionable calls and didn't appear to be dirty whatsoever.
His most recent personal foul flag came on a facemask penalty against Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson while the linebacker was blocked.
In all likelihood, it wasn't a planned dirty play by Burfict.
However, he did hit Green Bay Packers tight end Ryan Taylor below the belt during a post-play trash-tackling fest in Week 3 (GIF here courtesy of EveryJoe.com).
That play alone gets Burfict on the list.
2. Dashon Goldson, Buccaneers
Dashon Goldson is known as a hard-hitting safety, and he's certainly lived up to his billing in 2013.
In the season-opening loss to the New York Jets, Goldson led with his helmet when hitting tight end Jeff Cumberland, who ran down the seam to catch a pass from quarterback Geno Smith.
A week later, Goldson again used his helmet as a weapon when he hit New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles in his helmet on a play in the second quarter.
In Week 4, Goldson was flagged for a hit on a defenseless receiver when he blasted Arizona Cardinals wideout Jaron Brown in head area.
It was easily the least dirty hit of the three, but it's getting to the point where Goldson is clearly not learning and adjusting his game.
1. Brandon Meriweather, Redskins
Through seven games this season, serial head-hunter Brandon Meriweather has been the dirtiest player in the NFL.
In Week 2, he lunged helmet-first into Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy, which resulted in a concussion for the rookie.
No flag was called on the play.
In Week 7, on a third-quarter catch by Chicago Bears wideout Alshon Jeffery, Meriweather came over from his safety position and employed a helmet-to-helmet hit.
In the fourth quarter of that game, on a Josh McCown pass to Brandon Marshall in the end zone, Meriweather hit the big wideout late and high, thus resulting in his second unnecessary roughness penalty of the afternoon.
The NFL subsequently suspended the repeat offender for two games for his actions against the Bears, per the Washington Post.