A defensive end comes flying off the edge. The quarterback is looking downfield and barely sees him coming. The collision produces a sickening thwack, and quarterback, ball and helmet all fly off in different directions.
Has to be a dirty, helmet-on-helmet hit, doesn't it?
Not in the case of Texas defensive end Sergio Kindle's hit on Texas Tech's Taylor Potts during the fourth quarter of Saturday's 34-24 Texas win. As you'll see in the video below, Kindle used proper tackling technique. The hit just happened to be especially hellacious.
Before we get into the particulars of this discussion, let's get one thing out of our systems. No, Kindle was not texting when he hit Potts.
From Pop Warner on up, any coach worth his salt begins each season with a warning that if you can't see what you're about to hit, you're in trouble. One of ABC's replays (video is below) clearly showed that Kindle saw exactly what he was trying to hit - the football. He planted his face into the ball, which Potts had clutched to his chest. Then Kindle did what any good tackler is taught to do. He exploded from the knees up and drove his body through the ballcarrier. This explosion caused the crown of his helmet to rise into Potts' helmet. Look at the photo above. Notice that even after driving through the tackle, Kindle's eyes remain on his target.
Most people think the helmet-to-helmet rule exists to protect defenseless receivers or quarterbacks. While it does afford them some extra protection, the real reason for the rule is to protect tacklers from themselves. A tackler who dips his head and leads with the crown of his helmet stands a good chance of winding up paralyzed or dead.
Kindle obviously listened to his coaches, because he made a perfect form tackle on Potts. In the process, he also jarred the ball loose and allowed his team to recover deep in opposing territory in the fourth quarter of a one-possession game.
Final verdict: Kindle's hit was brutal, but it absolutely wasn't dirty.