Winning in the NFL is tough. Winning on the road is even harder. There are plenty of advantages playing at home, but the Seattle Seahawks definitely received a nice, extra gift from the officials against the Los Angeles Rams.
Over midway through the fourth quarter Thursday night, with the Rams clinging to the lead, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson flushed out of the pocket on first down on a play-action pass, but quickly ran out of options when he saw Rams linebacker Clay Matthews coming in hot. So, naturally, Wilson threw it away and eventually landed on his backside once the play was over.
Suddenly, a flag came out. Matthews was called for a roughing the passer penalty, giving the Seahawks an extra 15 yards and more life. They took advantage and scored what would be the game-winning touchdown at CenturyLink Field.
Upon further review, the penalty really screwed Matthews and the Rams at that moment.
Clay Matthews Roughing the Passer Video
Over the last two seasons, the NFL has made a better effort to protect quarterbacks from taking vicious, helmet-to-helmet and body weight hits. That's a good thing. Making marginal calls such as this, however, pretty much ruin the purpose of the new rule.
The video angle isn't perfect, by any means, but the film doesn't lie. Matthews led with his shoulder and hit Wilson in his left shoulder just as he got rid of the ball. There didn't seem to be anything malicious about the play.
This, from an outsider's perspective, should have been a no-call. Many others agree.
Look, the whole thing could have been avoided, and as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll explained after the game, "He gave them a chance to call it and they did.''
Clay Matthews Penalty History
Oddly enough, this isn't the first time Matthews has been flagged for a similarly questionable call. In a game against the Minnesota Vikings last season, the former Green Bay Packers linebacker was penalized for a hit on Kirk Cousins. The roughing the passer call took away what would have been a game-winning interception. Instead, the game ended in a tie.
Additionally, Matthews and Wilson have had a run-in before during the NFL playoffs. Matthews hit the Pro Bowl quarterback pretty hard in the 2015 NFC Championship Game, but was not called for a penalty.
Going back to Thursday night, it looked like a normal football play. The roughing call by the officiating crew was a bit soft.
Of course, the game ended by a missed field goal, which would have canceled out everything. Still, though, the refs screwed Clay Matthews over on this call and it's hard to think otherwise.
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