With the Ravens holding a 10-0 lead and driving for another score late in the second quarter of Thursday night’s game against the Dolphins, Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco tried to scramble for the first down. With hard-hitting Miami linebacker Kiko Alonso bearing down on him, Flacco slid. When a player slides in football, he’s theoretically giving himself up and the defender is not supposed to hit him.

Instead, this happened:

It was immediately obvious that Flacco was concussed, never a good thing to hear these days. Alonso was penalized but not ejected, a decision by the referee lots of people disagreed with vehemently.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh went ballistic, as did a good portion of Twitterers tuned in for the game.

During the CBS halftime show, though, analyst Bill Cowher put things in perspective, saying he agreed it was a foul on Alonso but that he did not believe it was a dirty play. Cowher stressed that Flacco was going all out for the first down and he started he slide too late to be giving himself up.

After the game, Harbaugh refused to comment on the situation, other than to say of the play, “It was penalized correctly.”

Alonso defended himself by saying his hit had no malicious intent and that it was a “bang-bang play.”

“When a guy slides, the target is very small. I just think it (Flacco’s slide) was a second late, which is why I hit him, to be honest with you, “Alonso said, per ESPN. “At first I was anticipating I thought he was going to slide. And then it got to a point where I was like, ‘I got to him,’ because he slid too late.”

While violence is part of what makes football fun to watch, no one wants to see a guy get his head almost taken off. But we agree with Cowher’s perspective. We do not think Alonso was intentionally trying to hurt Flacco – he was pursuing the quarterback and started his tackle before Flacco slid.

Unfortunate? Yes. Dirty? No.

Let’s see if the NFL agrees, as the football world awaits word on a potential suspension.