Tampa Bay Buccaneers Victims of NFL’s Safety Initiatives


Sep 8, 2013; East Rutherford, USA; New York Jets tight end

Jeff Cumberland

(87) is hit by Tampa Bay Buccaneers free safety

Dashon Goldson

(38) causing an incomplete pass in the second quarter during the game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the New York Jets on Sunday, and they did plenty of things wrong over the course of the game.

The offensive line didn’t block very well at all, Josh Freeman missed on two or three throws, including an interception, and the defense allowed chunks of yards on underneath passes.

They even allowed a safety, which wound up being the difference in the game.

But it was a different kind of safety that held the Buccaneers back. The NFL’s newfound obsession with safety.

Take a look at this GIF, courtesy of Bleacher Report’s Ken Dorset.

Lavonte David was not going to allow Geno Smith to repeat his earlier stunt by heading to the sidelines and then cutting back into the field of play to gain more yards. So before Geno put a foot down out of bounds, David gave him a strong two-handed shove that Geno knew was coming.

And he was called for a 15-yard personal foul penalty that led to a 48-yard field goal, rather than a 63-yard attempt.

What was David supposed to do? He told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times the same thing after the game.

But the NFL and its referees are going to err on the side of safety after dishing out a massive check to former players who sued the league for head injuries sustained while playing. So plays like these will continue to happen, whether fans like it or not.

David was not alone, as both Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson were penalized for plays where they delivered hard hits to receivers. For Goldson, a shoulder to the chest (which is where the ball was) of Jeff Cumberland led to a flag for hitting a “defenseless receiver.” For Barron, it was a diving tackle attempt at a falling receiver which earned him helmet-to-helmet contact flag.

In both instances, the players did what they were supposed to do. Goldson delivered a hit to the chest of a receiver who was holding the ball in that very location. He forced an incomplete pass, and was only rewarded with a penalty.

And Barron dove to hit a receiver who was falling to the ground to protect himself, and the receiver only left his helmet exposed for a hit. Barron had no choice but to make some sort of contact with the other player’s head.

The team did not play well overall. But the drive that was extended by Barron’s penalty resulted in the Jets’ only touchdown, and Lavonte David’s penalty resulted in a game winning field goal.

So it was a safety, and then an obsession with safety, which helped to add a loss to the Buccaneers’ 2013 schedule.