Pathetic Late Roughing-the-Passer Call Helps Seahawks Win, Enrages NFL Fans


NFL fans have seen more and more roughing-the-passer calls creep into the game in recent years. The total number has risen every season since 2016, and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight.

Last season saw an excruciating 118 roughing-the-passer calls enforced. For context, only 69 were called in 2009.

Sure, plenty of them are justified calls that even the biggest homer would have a tough time arguing about. But all too often, flags are thrown on plays that seem innocuous at first (and second, third, fourth, fifth) glance.

Part of what makes roughing-the-passer calls so tough to swallow is the outsized impact they can have on the game. Oftentimes the 15-yard penalty can extend a drive that was otherwise about to end in a punt or move an offense into scoring range, as happened Thursday night for the Seattle Seahawks.

Trailing the Los Angeles Rams by five points in the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson rolled out to his right and threw the ball away just as he was hit by Rams linebacker Clay Matthews.

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The hit seemed to check all the boxes for legality: It wasn’t low, it wasn’t in the head, it wasn’t particularly late and the defender didn’t drive the quarterback into the ground.

Yet for some reason a flag was thrown on the play, moving the Seahawks down to the Rams’ 25-yard line. Even Fox broadcasters Joe Buck and Troy Aikman seemed flummoxed by the call.

Did the referees get this penalty call correct?

“I don’t like the call at all,” Aikman said.

The Seahawks took the lead six plays later when Wilson tossed a 5-yard touchdown pass to running back Chris Carson.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff got his team in position for what would have been a game-winning field goal, but Greg Zuerlein’s 44-yard attempt with 11 seconds left missed wide right.

Unsurprisingly, NFL fans and pundits were not happy with the game-changing roughing call on Matthews.

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The win pushed the Seahawks to 4-1, while the Rams dropped to 3-2.

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Jake Harp has been with The Western Journal since 2014. His writing primarily focuses on sports and their intersection with politics, culture, and religion.
Jake Harp joined Liftable Media in 2014 after graduating from Grove City College. Since then he has worked in several roles, mostly focusing on social media and story assignment. Jake lives in Western New York where, in a shocking display of poor parenting, he tries to pass down his Buffalo sports fandom to his daughter.
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