Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
The NFL matched its biggest fine of the year Friday by docking Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen $50,000 for a pair of low hits on Houston quarterback Matt Schaub in last Sunday's 28-21 Vikings victory at the Metrodome. Although the league took into account that Allen has already been fined once this season for a late hit, the size of Friday's fine can only be interpreted as a powerful attempt to curb aggressiveness around quarterbacks.
On both plays, Allen was knocked to the ground during a pass rush. He continued pushing toward Schaub and said Wednesday that he was following his instinct to reach the quarterback. Allen said he had no intent to hurt Schaub, but Schaub did sprain the medial collateral ligament in his knee and will miss two to four weeks.
But player safety is one of commissioner Roger Goodell's top priorities and it's hard to dispute that Allen violated the NFL rule prohibiting hits on a quarterback below the knee. The size of the fine means the NFL expects defensive players in that situation to stop pursuing quarterbacks when they're on the ground, if that's what it takes to prevent low hits.
Earlier this week, before learning of the fine, Allen said he didn't think the NFL should have separate rules for quarterbacks.
"Maybe they want to protect the quarterbacks because they say it's an offensive-driven league," Allen said. "Well, I don't believe in that. I'm a defensive player. I believe it's a defensive-driven league."
It's safe to say the NFL doesn't share Allen's belief.