Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest
By JENNIFER HALE  |  Last updated 9/16/13
The Saints earned Sunday's dramatic win in Tampa Bay in many ways, including weathering the crushing and illegal hits the Bucs defense delivered to running back Darren Sproles and tight end Jimmy Graham. In fact, The NFL has now suspended Bucs safety Dashon Goldson without pay for one game for a flagrant and repeat violation of NFL safety rules prohibiting hits to the head and neck area of defenseless players. Goldson is responsible for a massive helmet-to-helmet hit on Sproles in the second quarter after Sproles failed to catch a pass from quarterback Drew Brees. Goldson was penalized for unnecessary roughness, then winked at the cameras after the penalty was announced. The suspension was imposed by NFL Vice President of Football Operations Merton Hanks. "You had an unobstructed path to your opponent," Hanks wrote in a letter to Goldson informing him of the suspension. "It is clear that you lowered your head and unnecessarily rammed the left side of your helmet into the left side of your opponent's head. You delivered a forceful blow with your helmet and made no attempt whatsoever to wrap up your opponent or make a conventional tackle on the play. This illegal contact clearly could have been avoided." Goldson may not practice this week nor play in the Buccaneers' game this Sunday against the New England Patriots. Goldson will be reinstated on Monday, September 23. Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Goldson can appeal his suspension within three business days. The hit on Sproles was Goldson's fifth for unnecessary roughness since 2011 and his second in the first two weeks of the this season. Goldson was fined 30,000 last week for striking a defenseless player in the head and neck area in the Buccaneers' Week 1 game against the New York Jets. Meanwhile, Bucs free safety Ahmad Black's helmet-to-helmet hit on a Jimmy Graham when he qualified as a defenseless receiver may trigger a fine letter from the NFL this week. It certainly riled up Saints head coach Sean Payton and left him applauding Graham's toughness. "Obviously it was a tough hit to take, but Jimmy came right back up and made a number of big plays in this game," Payton said. "It was great to see Jimmy take the hit, get back up and a couple of plays later catching the seam, right through the middle of their defense. He ended up really being the difference for us. He had an outstanding game. He was physical and changed field position for us." Black's hit seemed to only inspire Graham, who just two plays later, caught a 29-yard pass from Brees that was almost a touchdown. Graham wouldn't give Black the satisfaction of thinking he impacted the Saints game. "That's just the nature of the position, especially in our offense," Graham said. "We run a lot of all go. I'm always down the seam. I'm always in the middle. I'm in the noise. It's a quick play. It a bang-bang play that you know will be a big catch with a big hit. Unfortunately on that one, he targeted me a little high, and that's just part of the game." Graham enjoyed the sweetest revenge of all when the Saints triumphed and he personally produce a stellar game, catching 10 passes for a career-high 179 yards and a touchdown.
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