Patriots vs. Buccaneers: Is Tampa Bay a Dirty Team?

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Patriots vs. Buccaneers: Is Tampa Bay a Dirty Team?
TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 18: Running back Danny Woodhead #39 of the New England Patriots runs the ball as safety Sean Jones #26 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers makes the tackle during a preseason game at Raymond James Stadium on August 18, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

During last night's preseason game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New England Patriots, Patriots running back Danny Woodhead was crushed by Tampa safety Devin Holland while covering a Buccaneers punt return.

The hit was heavy and helmet-to-helmet, but drew no penalties. It was one of a number of hard hits doled out on Patriots players by Tampa last night.

Does this mean that Tampa Bay has turned dirty, looking for cheap hits as a way to exact revenge on teams getting the better of them?

I don't believe so.

While the hit was devastating—though after the game Woodhead said to assembled reporters that he felt fine—it wasn't blatantly illegal or intentional.

Punt coverage, like kickoff coverage, is one of the more dangerous things a football player can be asked to do. The rule change moving kickoffs to the 35-yard line this season is a direct result of kick returns causing a significant number of injuries every year.

Bodies are flying around, and the play by its very nature is designed to be unpredictable, which increases the level of risk.

Holland will certainly be fined by the league for the hit, but it's ridiculous to assume that he targeted Woodhead with knocking him out of the game in mind.

Hard hits happen and players unfortunately get concussions and other serious injuries that force them off the field. But just because they occur does not mean the player who made the hit is out there actively trying to seriously hurt someone.

To call the Buccaneers dirty because of one game would be an illogical leap to make.

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