It’s lame to blame officials for outcomes of games, but Packers fans have a legitimate gripe after losing to the Vikings.
While the Green Bay Packers didn’t lose on Sunday, a horrendous call against Clay Matthews paved the way for a tie. Everyone will be talking about how both Daniel Carlson and Mason Crosby both missed crucial field goals that would have won the game for their teams, it was a roughing the passer penalty that caused led to the madness.
Late in the game, with the Vikings on the ropes, Kirk Cousins threw an awful interception that would have sealed the deal for Green Bay. Instead, Minnesota kept the ball because Clay Matthews was flagged for roughing Cousins.
Here’s the hit, which seemed to be nothing more than Matthews tackling Cousins.
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
By the old rules, this isn’t a roughing the passer call. But because the new rule penalizes defenders who drive a quarterback into the ground — or tackle in a way that can be perceived as such — it’s an illegal play.
Rather than the game ending on that play, Minnesota drove down the field to tie the game. To be fair, the Packers defense failed to stop the Vikings from scoring a touchdown and then a two-point conversion to tie things up, so calling out the Matthews penalty isn’t the strongest leg to stand on. But the game should have ended with that interception and it shouldn’t have been allowed to continue because of a penalty.
This isn’t the first time the new rules protecting quarterbacks have become an issue. Like the controversial catch rule, this seems to be the next evolution of fan frustration with the NFL. Green Bay blew that drive, but it should have never been allowed to get that far down the line.
A tie isn’t as bad as losing a divisional game, but penalties like this are going to be a fountain of frustration for fans across the league all season long.