Low, late hit on Pennington will cost Seau $7,500

Updated: September 23, 2006, 3:31 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Continuing its emphasis on sanctioning players for what it deems late hits on quarterbacks, the NFL has fined New England Patriots linebacker Junior Seau $7,500 for a play in the Patriots' 24-17 victory over the New York Jets last Sunday.

Junior Seau
Seau

The incident occurred with 6:30 remaining in the third quarter, on a play in which Jets quarterback Chad Pennington completed a 71-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery.

Seau hit Pennington low, around the knees, as he released the ball. He was penalized 15 yards for roughing the passer, and the penalty was enforced on the ensuing kickoff. Pennington sustained a slight calf injury but he returned to the field on New York's subsequent offensive possession.

The fine, one of the few of Seau's long and celebrated career, can be appealed. It is not yet known if Seau will contest the fine. Pennington has not experienced any lingering ramifications from the play.

In the opening weekend, at least four defenders were fined between $5,000-$7,500 for what the league perceived as excessive or late contact against a quarterback.

League officials continue to emphasize protecting quarterbacks, especially when they are in so-called "defenseless" situations or on late hits, and some of the fines have been levied on incidents that did not draw penalty flags during the games.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.