The NFL is doubling down on the controversial, game-changing roughing-the-passer penalty Sunday on the Green Bay Packers’ Clay Matthews against the Minnesota Vikings.
Not only did the league back referee Tony Corrente’s call against Matthews, it is making an example of the call. The league will include the play in a training video that will be distributed to every NFL team as an example of what not to do when hitting a quarterback, reported NFL.com.
Do not hit quarterbacks high. Do not hit quarterbacks low. Do not hit them in the midriff. Roughing the passer on Clay Matthews. pic.twitter.com/pFyMnXxqxG
— Ollie Connolly (@OllieConnolly) September 16, 2018
Corrente made the call citing Rule 12, Section 2, Article 9 of the NFL Rule Book, which says, “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.” It also says the “technique of grabbing the passer from behind the leg(s), scooping and pulling in an upward motion is considered a foul.”
In an interview with ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Corrente said the flag was thrown because Matthews “lifted him and drove him into the ground.”
Here’s the full referee pool report as transcribed by the NFL: pic.twitter.com/f8WsfVyfUW
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) September 16, 2018
It was a huge play in the game. The Packers had just taken a 29-21 lead after a Mason Crosby field goal with 1:45 left in regulation.
On first down, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins threw it deep, just before Matthews dropped him. Cousins’ pass was intercepted, which would have most likely ended the game. But the interception was nullified by the roughing-the-passer call.
With new life, Cousins led the Vikings down the field and threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Adam Thielen with 31 seconds left. After the 2-point conversion, a short pass to Stefon Diggs, the game was tied at 29.
That’s how it ended after a scoreless overtime period.
“I don’t even know where to start, to be completely honest with you. I have so many emotions running through as far as what a terrible call it was. At the same time, I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know. You let me know. You tell me. Did I put pressure on him? I thought I hit him within his waist to chest, I got my head across, put my hands down. To call it at that point in the game is unbelievable. Last week, OK, shame on me. This week, that’s unbelievable,” Matthews said after the game, reported USA Today.
Matthews was not alone in calling it a terrible call by Corrente.
The #Packera were absolutely robbed today. The NFL officiating crew gave Minnesota that tie. The call against Matthews was pure robbery and one of the worst calls I have ever seen in my life. There were about 3-4 other badly blown calls. This game really isn't what it used to be.
— Chris Peterson (@cmpetey) September 17, 2018
— Brian Cuddy (@BefuddledPotato) September 16, 2018
Worst call I’ve seen in a long time. Watch Matthews plant arm so as to not allow full weight on Cousins. https://t.co/vrsLpDYgtH
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) September 17, 2018
“The worst part is, we’ll probably send it in and you know what they’re going to say? They’ll find fault on me because they’re going to agree with the refs,” Matthews said.
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