FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Matt Light and Channing Crowder left their face-shoving, hair-pulling, head-smacking tussle with big smiles.
The NFL may not be amused at their brief battle during the Patriots’ win over the Dolphins on Sunday.
Gene Washington, the NFL’s director of football operations, will review the incident this week for potential discipline, a routine procedure for on-field fights, league spokesman Greg Aiello said Monday.
It occurred after left tackle Light blocked linebacker Crowder, whose helmet fell off, on Stephen Gostkowski’s 30-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter of New England’s very physical 48-28 win at Miami.
“I had no idea what was going on,” Gostkowski said. “I was just worried about them falling on my leg. I didn’t want to get hurt from something like that.”
Light did hit Gostkowski’s leg after Miami’s Matt Roth knocked down New England’s Russ Hochstein, forcing Light backward and into the kicker. Light got up and he and Crowder pushed each other in the face. Light then grabbed Crowder’s dreadlocks in his left hand and hit him three times on the head with his right.
Crowder broke free and ran away with a huge grin. Both received personal foul penalties and were ejected. As they walked off, Light smiled and Crowder raised his hands to elicit cheers from his hometown fans.
After reviewing the play, Roth said Monday he thought Crowder got a raw deal, “but I’m no ref. I watched the film and it’s just one of those things that was unfortunate; wish it didn’t happen.”
The Patriots (7-4) play a team that’s probably more physical than the Dolphins when they are home against the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3) on Sunday. A suspension might keep Light out of that, but
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday he won’t prepare his team any differently.
“We have seen players get hurt on the first play of the game, in the first quarter,” he said, “so whichever guys go to the game, they have to be ready to play – starters, backups. … It is the same every week.”
Patriots players were given Monday off, and Light was not available to comment. Crowder didn’t discuss the incident Monday.
Belichick said he had nothing to add to his comments of Sunday.
“We don’t need to get any fouls or penalties, or get into a verbal battle back and forth after the game,” he said then. “We’ll say what we have to say (with their play) on the field.”
About a month ago, Pittsburgh wide receiver Hines Ward fractured the jaw of Cincinnati rookie linebacker Keith Rivers with a hard block that was neither penalized nor fined. The Steelers won 38-10, and Rivers was sidelined for the season.
“Miami’s been playing very physical all year long,” Patriots defensive back Lewis Sanders said, “so we knew we had to come into this game and try to match their intensity and I think we did that. … Pittsburgh is even more physical, so we’ve got another big obstacle ahead of us.”
Crowder was involved in another hard-hitting play when he leveled Wes Welker after a 2-yard reception coming across the middle. The wide receiver lay on his back for a while, left the game, then returned and caught a pass two plays later.
“Football’s a very intense game,” Miami cornerback Will Allen said. “It’s a violent game. It’s not a friendly game. So I wouldn’t expect to be friends with anybody out there.”
Perhaps teams play more physically with a shot at the playoffs in the second half of the season. Belichick doesn’t think so.
“When you have physical teams they play physical be (it) in September or November, and you have a lot of physical guys on the field,” he said. “I think if you watch Jacksonville, Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Baltimore, they are physical teams and they play physical every time of year.
“I don’t think it is just related to Thanksgiving or Christmas. I think they play rock’em, sock’em style ball all the time and Miami has become that kind of a team.”
Gostkowski just wants to stay out of the way.
“That’s their fight. Let them do what they want to do,” he said with a laugh. “Those guys are twice my size. I only pick fights that I can win.”
Associated Press Writer Sarah Larimer in Miami contributed to this report.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee. Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder (52) runs after fighting with New England Patriots tackle Matt Light during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 23, 2008 in Miami. Both were ejected from the game and the Patriots defeated the Dolphins 48-28.