The NFL’s absolutely terrible and impossible new definition of roughing the passer—which prohibits defensive players from landing on quarterbacks with their body weight—came into play during today’s Vikings-Packers game and directly affected the outcome. In what eventually became a 29-29 tie (don’t ask, it was bad), Minnesota’s late, game-tying drive was given a second life thanks to Clay Matthews’s failure to defy the laws of physics.
With the Vikings down 29-21 at the beginning of their drive with under two minutes remaining, Kirk Cousins got hit by Matthews while he was throwing, and the result was an interception by Green Bay CB Jaire Alexander that would have effectively ended the game. However, Matthews got flagged for roughing the passer, which gave Cousins and the Vikings new life and allowed them to march down the field, score eight points, and send the game into overtime.
What was Matthews supposed to do to avoid the penalty? I have no idea, other than completely change the direction of his body mid-tackle.
The Packers’ Mason Crosby missed a field goal at the end of regulation, and neither team could score in OT, so the game ended in a tie. Granted, the display of futility from each side’s kickers gave us a final score never seen before in NFL history, and that wouldn’t have come without the dumb flag. But still, this bad rule needs to be fixed ASAP.
Update (6:07 p.m.): Referee Tony Corrente says that the Matthews penalty wasn’t about the Packers defender putting his weight on the quarterback. But his explanation for throwing the flag feels equally bullshit, unless he and I have different definitions of “lifting.”