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NFL sides with Buccaneers on kneel-down controversy

Greg Schiano, Tom Coughlin

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano, left, and New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin exchange words at the end of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Giants won the game 41-34. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)


Giants coach Tom Coughlin says Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano crossed the line by having his defensive linemen drill the Giants’ offensive linemen in an attempt to cause a fumble when the Giants were kneeling down on the last play of Sunday’s game.

But the NFL says Coughlin is wrong, and the Bucs didn’t violate any rules. The league says there will be no action taken and there were no violations during or after the kneel-down play, according to Mike Garafolo of USA Today.

In other words, NFL rules say a kneel-down play is a real play just like any other plays, and neither side needs to let up. Linemen on both sides can smash into each other just as they do on every other play, and if a defensive lineman makes it through before the quarterback kneels, he’s free to try to strip the ball.

At a time when the NFL is otherwise trying to reduce the number and severity of collisions on the field, Schiano’s approach to kneel-downs -- and the NFL’s endorsement of that approach -- could lead to some violent collisions on a play that has traditionally been treated by players on both teams as nothing more than a formality before shaking hands and heading to the locker room.