If there's one guy in the NFL I wouldn't want to tussle with (not that I think I'd stand a chance against any NFL player), it's Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings. The veteran defensive end is fast, nasty, technically perfect, and has just the right amount of pure crazy to make you wonder just what's on his mind.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive tackle Donald Penn, whose unfortunate task it was to block Allen on Thursday night, found this out when the two men went at it late in the third quarter of Tampa Bay's eventual 36-17 victory.
With 3:23 left in the third quarter and the ball at the Tampa Bay 30, Allen tried to get inside Penn with a rip move, and Penn got a little extracurricular with an uncalled hold and a lot of blocking after quarterback Josh Freeman had thrown an incompletion to receiver Vincent Jackson. Perhaps it was the frustration one must feel when going up against Allen snap after snap, but Penn definitely crossed the line.
The two men started to fight, Penn ripped Allen's helmet off, bloodying Allen's nose in the process. The officials broke it up, and referee Ron Winter called offsetting penalties -- grabbing the facemask on Allen, and unnecessary roughness on Penn.
As the Bucs lined up for the next play, Penn and Allen went face-to-face, and the Vikings' home crowd went nuts as Penn's own teammates told him to cut it out, and Allen raised his arms to the Minnesota faithful. At that point, Bucs coach Greg Schiano had to call a timeout to restore some semblance of order, because the Bucs' offense couldn't even hear Freeman's signals.
From the look on Allen's face at that point, you just knew that something bad was about to happen to Freeman. And it did. Allen absolutely demolished Penn on a straight leverage play, dashed across his face with the speed of a very pissed-off slot receiver, took Freeman down, and ended the drive.
It was Allen's only sack of the evening, but he was bringing pressure all through the game (especially when he lined up on the defensive right side with Everson Griffen to his left), and Donald Penn learned a very important lesson: It's hard enough to go up against Jared Allen when he's at his normal level of fury. Sending him through the roof is unwise.
One thing we know for sure: Both players can expect the league office to take some serious cash out of their checking accounts.
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