Seeing that Wilson had tucked the ball and was now running for a first down, Tate, who was being covered by Lee, transitioned to blocking mode and instinctively peeled back to throw a block. Tate ducked down and buried his left shoulder into Lee's chest, the contact knocking the Cowboys' leading tackler (last year and this season) into the air. During the block, Tate's helmet — which to be honest, is roughly the same size as his torso — made contact with Lee's facemask.
A penalty flag was thrown, but instead of penalizing Tate for his block on Lee, the referees assessed a highly questionable 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter, who had lightly shoved Wilson as the rookie quarterback was going out of bounds.
In the Cowboys' locker room, Lee, who would return to the field, confirmed that the hit was to his chest, not his chin. Still, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones thought it was helmet-to-helmet and expects the National Football League to fine Tate, reports Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas.
We'll have to wait until at least Wednesday before knowing if Tate received a FedEx envelope containing a fine. If Tate is docked for a blindside block or a hit on a defenseless player, the maximum he could lose is $21,000, which is two-thirds his $31,765 game checks. On Monday morning, the 2010 second-round pick out of Notre Dame told Dave "Softy" Mahler of Sports Radio 950-KJR AM in Seattle that he doesn't think he did anything wrong and hopes to avoid a fine.
"No, I haven't heard anything yet. I'm praying that I don't hear from them," said Tate. "I reviewed that play many, many times. I never have intentions on injuring a player, just kind of caught up in the moment. It was a big block that gave us some momentum and helped us out, but no, I haven't heard anything from the league. If I do, I'm sure everyone will find out quickly, but hopefully, I don't (hear from the league)…
"I didn't think I was leading with my helmet and I think I purposely aimed lower than I think anyone else would have because I didn't want to get head-to-head contact. I have no intentions on hurting him (Lee), so no, I didn't lead with my head."
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