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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In my book, it's possible to be dirty but still within the rules.
What Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark did to New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker might fall into that category, but I open the floor for your opinions.
On a tipped ball late in the third quarter of Pittsburgh's 33-10 victory in Gillette Stadium, Clark delivered a booming shot into Welker's chest. The hit propelled Welker backwards, landing on the back of his head and that flat on his back.
The hit came before the whistle and with Welker a potential receiver on a deflected ball. But Clark received an unnecessary roughness penalty for hitting a defenseless receiver. He could face disciplinary action from the NFL.
Welker didn't return to the field.
After the game, I asked Patriots coach Bill Belichick what he thought of the hit.
"I don't have anything to say about that right now," Belichick said.
Clark expressed remorse for the play.
"It was not like I was trying to be cheap," Clark said. "Anybody that comes across [the middle] it's my job to tackle them. The ball got tipped, but [the official] said I should not have left my feet. I do not know how to control that.
"I talked to Kevin Faulk and apologized. I could not find Welker after the game to tell him I was not trying to be dirty."
What do you think? Was Clark's hit dirty? Should he be fined for the hit?