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NFL fines Golden Tate $21,000 for block on Sean Lee

St. Louis Rams v Seattle Seahawks

SEATTLE - DECEMBER 12: Wide receiver Golden Tate #81 of the Seattle Seahawks reacts after rushing for an 11 yard gain against the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink Field on December 12, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Rams 30-13. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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When Seahawks receiver Golden Tate jacked up Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee with a brutal block on Sunday, he wasn’t flagged. But the league office has decided that was an oversight by the replacement officials.

The NFL fined Tate $21,000 for the block, according to Tim MacMahon of The league office says the block was illegal because Tate launched himself into Lee, striking him in the chest and chin with the crown of his helmet. Tate said after the game that he didn’t think -- but didn’t know for sure -- that the block was illegal.

“I knew that I didn’t hit him in his helmet,” Tate said. “I hit him somewhere down here [at chest level]. But the rules change so much that you never really know.”

It’s hard to blame Tate for not knowing the hit was illegal, considering the officials obviously didn’t know either. But Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will be glad Tate was fined, as Jones called for the fine after the game.

For his part, Lee has said he thinks hits like Tate’s are part of football. But he also seemed to be annoyed by the way Tate got up and started celebrating afterward.

“Crackback hits, that’s not a definition of toughness,” Lee said. “A definition of toughness is hitting, squaring up, being able to do your job as hard as you can every single play. That’s at least what I believe. Anybody can crackback block.”

And anybody who crackback blocks the way Tate did is going to get fined.