Vikings' Allen isn't forgetting Cherilus hit

One of last year's enduring images of tough man Jared Allen is him limping down the field after Lions tackle Gosder Cherilus after being hit in the knee and injured. As the Lions and Vikings prepare for their first meeting since then, Allen talked in-depth about the hit and how he's not forgetting about it.

It doesn't take much to get Jared Allen fired up. Anyone who has followed his career knows that he gives full effort on every play – whether in a game or in practice – and is always a sound byte of choice for the media because his brain runs at a faster level than most when it comes to giving his opinion or cracking wise. In fact, there are some who believe his motor runs so high that he get eight hours of sleep in about six.

But as he takes the field Sunday, Allen will have a little more incentive to hope he gets moved around on the defensive front. While most of the game he will be locked on to Lions left tackle Jeff Backus, the other offensive tackle will be in his line of fire – second-year right tackle Gosder Cherilus.

A first-round pick of the Lions last year, Cherilus may have to consider himself a marked man, because he raised more than a few eyebrows last year with a block on Allen that the defensive end considered a cheap shot. The last time the Vikings played the Lions, Allen was chasing a play in the backfield and after the pass was gone, Cherilus, who had fallen to the ground during the play, drove from all fours, lunged and dropped his helmet directly on Allen's left knee. He immediately crumpled to the ground grabbing the knee. He wouldn't stay down long and what followed was a testament to Allen's competitive nature and his fire.

He chased after Cherilus hopping on one leg. He was held by back by ironic peacemaker Ray Edwards and hobbled to the sidelines. At the time, nobody knew if the injury was potentially season-ending. The slow motion replays showed Allen's knee buckle on contact, the kind of slow-mo replays seen over and over this week reviewing Troy Polamalu's injury in his season opener against Tennessee.

Allen and the Vikings are returning to the scene of the crime at Ford Field for the first time since the shot and, almost a year later, Allen hasn't changed his opinion. When asked if, after seeing the play again during film study, he still believes Cherilus gave him a potential career-threatening cheap shot, it was clear Allen's opinion hadn't varied much from his initial take as he hopped after the Lions rookie.

"Absolutely," Allen said. "To this day, I think it was a cheap shot. The play was out and he was on the ground. I just watched it again (Wednesday) night. There is no doubt. But we came back, we won the game and I got a couple of sacks. It worked out well."

For some, it seemed like payback. Allen is no stranger to accusations of being a dirty player himself. Want to try something interesting? Do a Google search with the keywords "Jared Allen Gosder Cherilus" and see what you get. There is the majority perception that Allen takes cheap shots himself.

Last season, Allen had to forfeit $80,000 in fine money back to the league. His first infraction was a $5,000 fine for jumping on a pile in a game against Chicago. He next got hit with a $50,000 fine – huge by NFL fine standards – for a pair of hits on Houston quarterback Matt Schaub, the second of which sidelined the quarterback for a month. His third infraction got him summoned to the league office in New York on the team's off day to justify his actions for a hit on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. While he wasn't suspended, which many feared would happen, he was hit with another $25,000 fine.

Allen wasn't exactly filled with remorse, saying he won't change the way he plays, but explained that he has never given a cheap shot to a quarterback. It is clear that Allen is watched more closely that other defensive ends because he has history of violence when it comes to hitting opposing players, but Allen said nobody can call him a dirty player or a cheap-shot opportunist.

"What bothered me about that was that anyone who knows me or has spent any amount of time with me knows I'm not a cheap player," Allen said. "In both cases, I was locked on to an offensive tackle, got close to the quarterback and gave a lunge to try to make a play. I got fined because the perception was that I was intentionally coming in low, but I think if you would ask defensive ends if they thought either one was dirty, you would get a different answer."

Allen said the difference between the plays he got fined for and what Cherilus did to him – he wasn't fined, by the way – was enormous. He was trying to make a play to get a sack. Cherilus was trying to cut his knees from the blind side when the play was over from their perspective behind the line of scrimmage. In his mind, there is no comparison.

"He was trying to take out my knee – pure and simple," Allen said. "Things like that happen on the field. Some guys don't care what they have to do to get the better of you. For years, Denver offense linemen were accused of being dirty for doing cut blocks right at the knees of the defensive linemen. I agree. I always thought it was cheap and could end someone's career and their chance to make a living. When someone does that, you can bet it gets your attention."

Allen said that, while he's going to be lined up against Backus most of the game, there might be an opportunity to line up for a few plays on the left side of the defense and lock up with Cherilus to renew acquaintances.

"That's up to the coaches where I line up," said Allen, with his mouth curling into a grin. "But there may be a couple of chances to go up against him. In the NFL, talking about it doesn't mean a lot. You take care of things on the field and, if I get a chance to line up opposite him, I'll show him what I can do when we're both standing and going face-up."

"(Allen) is an emotional guy," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "He is a high-strung individual. Some of that is good and every now and then you have to say, ‘Hey, come down, big fella.' It's good to have those emotions and you just have to channel them in the right direction."

Asked if Allen can forgive and forget, the defensive end said accomplishing that is easier said than done. At the moment of impact, he said he wasn't sure how severe the injury was, but that the pain was intense and the thought flashed in his mind that it could be extremely serious. Forgiveness, he said, isn't part of the NFL lexicon in the trenches. Forgetting is is impossible.

"You don't forget about it, that's for darn sure," Allen said. "It's not something that is going to take me out of my game – we have to do a job Sunday. But, needless to say, we won't be hanging out in the offseason."


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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