The Clay Matthews roughing the passer penalty on Sunday was a huge call and basically saved the Vikings, who later tied it up (and tied the game). According to a report by Rob Demovsky, the NFL is not only standing by the call and saying it was correct, they are doubling down and saying it was such a great call that they are using it in teaching videos of what should be called.
From Demovsky, “[a] league source reiterated Monday that the “technique of grabbing the passer from behind the leg or legs, scooping and pulling in an upward motion, is a foul.'”
What an utter embarrassment.
I’m all for getting head shots out of the game, and we’ve seen some unlucky/inadvertent cases where the quarterback has been hit during a quick play with a helmet riding up into him. As unlucky as those may be, I get it and am all aboard. I also understand the motivation behind the lower leg hits in the pocket. But man, what are they supposed to do when what Clay Matthews did is a penalty? And what is that person talking about? That explanation defies what anyone can see with their own eyes.
But we shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve seen this movie before following a controversial call in a NFC North game. You might recall the Calvin Johnson play, where Calvin Johnson made a catch, hit his butt down, legs down, arm down, and then rolled over to push off to jump up and celebrate and lost the ball. Somehow, that was a clear case of the Going to the Ground Rule even though anyone with an ounce of common sense knew it wasn’t.
Judging by the timeline of how long the league told us the sky was red while we were staring right at a beautiful blue horizon when it came to catches, we should expect an alteration to the rule book in about 2026 clarifying what we knew all along. But not before they vigorously defend the rule, act as if it is clear and only idiots can fail to grasp it while it becomes a weekly talking point that “now no one knows what roughing is.” Not before there is a key playoff game decided by a call worse than this one.
And then, they will double down again and re-write the rule book so this Matthews penalty and this future controversial call will be justified by alterations to a rule. They’ll keep digging and digging in. And then years later, they’ll finally be like, “hey, maybe this shouldn’t be a penalty.”
We’ve seen this movie before, but that doesn’t mean you can’t watch and cringe out how awful and embarrassing the plot is.