Atlanta Falcons safety Chris Hope didn’t get off easy for a big hit he put on Victor Cruz.
The NFL has fined Hope $30,000 for an illegal shot he made on the New York Giants wide receiver last Sunday during the third quarter of the Falcons’ blowout victory. Hope was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty on the play as it was deemed he struck Cruz in the head/neck area, according to Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star-Ledger.
For his part, Cruz absolved Hope of any wrongdoing.
“He doesn’t strike me personally as a dirty player, so I wouldn’t say that," he said following the game, according to the report.
Fortunately, Cruz was not injured on the play. In the past several years, some have believed the Falcons were soft on defense. While an illegal hit doesn’t mean they’ve toughened up by any means, the impressive 34-0 shutout of the Giants did send a message to the rest of the NFC that Atlanta could be a different team when the postseason comes around next month.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune