Rick’s Pick: Tampa Bay and the Dirty D

In recent NFL games, I have seen the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense attempt something that left me speechless. At the end of a game, when a quarterback is kneeling the ball, this defense is going after the ball like it is an actual play.

Let’s stop for a minute and think about what the implication of a quarterback kneeling the ball. The team with the ball has most likely captured the lead and is looking to run down the clock to prevent the game from dragging. It is common understanding that when the offense sets up in a quarterback kneel formation, the defense knows that it is not a real play and they should just move on with the game.

The Tampa Bay defense has now decided to go after offenses that kneel the ball as if it was a normal play with scoring implications. They first attempted this during their game with the New York Giants in a situation in which quarterback Eli Manning was kneeling the ball, and they attacked and brutally knocked him down.

This is without a doubt one of the worst, most cowardly things I have ever seen in an NFL game. As a former defensive player, I understand going after the ball until the whistle blows, but there is a fine line between playing with passion and playing out of frustration. I think this defense is simply attempting to injure players on the opposing team as a way of getting back at them for winning the game.

The Tampa Bay coaching staff can justify their vicious play all they want, but the fact is this type of play is nothing more than unsportsmanlike conduct and should be penalized not only with yardage in a game, but also in fines handed out to the players, coaches and owners for allowing this despicable act to happen in the first place.