Clay Matthews for , and understandably so. It cost the Packers the game against the Vikings (or half the game anyway) and it was a perfectly clean hit on a quarterback. Except it wasn't, according to the NFL.flagging
Per Rob Demovsky of ESPN, the NFL said on Monday, in the wake of people stomping their feet over the controversy, that it was the correct call.
But, wait -- there's more! The NFL also said it plans on using the hit by Matthews as "teaching tape" in order to show referees how they should flag players who hit quarterbacks.
First off, let's look at the play in question:
I don't know how this could be a flag. Look where Matthews is when Cousins is releasing the ball.
Matthews made sure not to lead with his helmet. He made sure not to go low on Cousins. He made sure not to go high on Cousins. He avoided driving Cousins into the ground. He purposely kept his weight off of Cousins.
There's less than two minutes left in the game and Matthews made sure -- a week after he was flagged for an idiotic decision to rough Mitchell Trubisky -- he was 100 percent technically sound on this play so that he wouldn't get flagged. Cousins folded like a cheap suit when he got hit (it's not an insult; he hung in the pocket and made a heck of a throw, Matthews is just a man-child) and it looked painful. But it's football.
"It has nothing to do with the rule of full body weight," Corrente explained after the game. "It has nothing to do with helmet to helmet. He picked the quarterback up and drove him into the ground."
He ... just didn't. Matthews didn't stop his body in motion and fail to take Cousins down, but he couldn't have known Cousins had released the ball (see: above). He thought he got there in time and he was trying to avoid drawing a penalty.
The worst part is the NFL thinks this was a great call and is going to use it to provide "teaching tape" for officials on how to flag roughing the passer penalties, according to both Tom Pelissero of NFL Media.
Demovsky reports that a source told him the "technique of grabbing the passer from behind the leg or legs, scooping and pulling in an upward motion, is a foul."
Here's where they would, in theory, be dinging Matthews.
But he didn't "scoop" him -- Cousins was throwing, Matthews was going at an angle so as to not hurt the quarterback and the result was the guy passing the ball left the ground. It happens all the time and doesn't get flagged.
It did here and apparently it's going to be a thing to worry about moving forward.