For the third straight week, Clay Matthews was called for a roughing the passer penalty, but for the second straight week, many did not feel it was particularly deserved.
The NFL is trying very hard to enforce Rule 12, Section 2, Article 9(b), which plainly states that a defender can't land on a quarterback with all or most of the defender's weight. Last week, after the Packers' tie against Minnesota, the NFL dug in, stating that it was sending video of the Clay Matthews penalty to all NFL teams for instruction.
This week, the NFL took only about 20 minutes to decide to double down on yet another Clay Matthews roughing the passer penalty:
This is a foul for roughing the passer - the defender lands “with all or most of the defender’s weight” on the passer. Rule 12, Section 2, Article 9(b): https://t.co/s9YKN8NLuT #GBvsWAS pic.twitter.com/ei2QZkvvzx— NFL Football Operations (@NFLFootballOps) September 23, 2018
It didn't take long for observers (and many beyond the Packers' fandom) to decry the fall of the NFL, ranging from stated boycotts to suggestions about placing flags on quarterbacks to referencing a South Park episode in which every sarcastic suggestion by one of the characters is implemented into the rules (dubbed "Sarcastiball").
While this particular penalty didn't likely cost the Packers a win (there were plenty of other issues in the game, from drops to other, more obvious and egregious penalties and poor defensive play in the first half), it did immediately draw the ire of Packers coach Mike McCarthy:
Just kidding. It’s going to be Mike McCarthy who kills a ref. It may be on live TV as well. pic.twitter.com/zN3KzjASGi— Barstool Sports (@barstooltweetss) September 23, 2018
While the NFL Ops' Twitter account released a video while the game was still going on, the officials at the game explained afterwards that they were calling it as it is written in the NFL Rulebook:
Referee Craig Wrolstad on Matthews penalty in pool report: "So, that's not a new rule. I had judged that the defender landed on the quarterback when he was tackling him, with most or all of his body weight, and that's not allowed. If you do that, it's roughing the passer."— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) September 23, 2018
The aftermath of the past two Matthews roughing the passer penalties (his penalty in Week 1 against Chicago was well-deserved) has led to the Packers players, coaches, and Matthews himself defending the play as playing football:
Adding fuel to the fire against Washington, Aaron Rodgers was sacked in a similar manner, but no penalty was called. The explanation was given to everyone in attendance, inadvertently:
Ref mic didn’t go off. Stadium got to hear an interesting exchange as Rodgers asked if the previous sack involved roughing the passer. Ref answer was he couldn’t see through 14 guys. Interesting stuff.— Lance Allan (@lanceallan) September 23, 2018
Get ready for another week of debating roughing the passer in the NFL.
Photo; Getty Images