Roughing the Packers – How a Terrible Call Cost Green Bay a Win
I've heard this argument made before, and I've rolled my eyes in disagreement.
But, after Sunday's Packes vs. Vikings 29-29 tie, I think the NFL SHOULD consider putting flags on the hips of quarterbacks, just so we're all on the same page.
With Green Bay ahead 29-21 in the closing minutes of regulation, Minnesota's Kirk Cousins was looking to rally his team down the field to tie the game before time ran out. He dropped back and heaved a ball down the field, a ball that was ultimately intercepted, seemingly sealing the game for The Pack.
But not so fast!
Veteran NFL official Tony Corrente dropped a yellow flag on Clay Matthews, ruling that Matthews roughed the passer, negating the turnover and keeping Minnesota's drive alive - plus 15 yards and a first down.
By now you know the Vikings did complete the drive, and subsequent 2-point conversion, to force overtime. After a scoreless period - which the Vikes probably should have won on a field goal as time expired (wide right!), the game ended in a tie.
Here's the league's new rule on 'roughing', per SB Nation, and while you could make a case that by definition Matthews' tackle of Cousins does fall under this rule, I don't know what an NFL pass rusher can do anymore, other than just not hit the quarterback.
A rushing defender is prohibited from committing such intimidating and punishing acts as “stuffing” a passer into the ground or unnecessarily wrestling or driving him down after the passer has thrown the ball, even if the rusher makes his initial contact with the passer within the one-step limitation provided for in (a) above. When tackling a passer who is in a defenseless posture (e.g., during or just after throwing a pass), a defensive player must not unnecessarily or violently throw him down or land on top of him with all or most of the defender’s weight. Instead, the defensive player must strive to wrap up the passer with the defensive player’s arms and not land on the passer with all or most of his body weight.
Matthews was full throttle in his attempt to get to Cousins, the QB releases the ball under pressure a split second before being hit by Mathews, and because Mathews fell on him while making the hit, it's a penalty?
I mean Matthews uses textbook form - head to the side, leading with his shoulder and arm, initiates contact to Cousins' midsection (not his upper body or lower body, either of which would itself be a penalty), and his forward momentum carries him onto Cousins.
I just don't get it, but I eagerly await word from the NFL to see if the league thinks that was the correct call.
If it is the right call, let's just put flags on the hips of QBs and end the confusion.