Packers dealing with costly penalties in tie with Vikings
Published 10:08 pm Monday, September 17, 2018
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Every week, the Green Bay Packers are like any other NFL team, sending video of officials’ calls they didn’t agree with to the league office for review.
This week’s will have one that undoubtedly the league already knows the team is unhappy with: Linebacker Clay Matthews’ controversial roughing-the-passer penalty late in the fourth quarter, a call that wiped out a Packers interception and allowed the Minnesota Vikings to escape Lambeau Field with a 29-29 tie on Sunday.
McCarthy said he and his coaching staff reviewed the tape of the game early Monday morning, and that they’ll compile those plays they took issue with and send them on Monday night or Tuesday morning.
Matthews was flagged for a 15-yard personal foul for roughing Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins with 1 minute, 37 seconds left and the Packers leading, 29-21.
Instead of Jaire Alexander’s interception that would have sealed a win for the Packers, they watched as Cousins threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Adam Thielen and completed a 2-point conversion to Stefon Diggs to force overtime.
Neither team scored in OT, with Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson missing a pair of field-goal attempts, including one as overtime expired. The Vikings cut Carlson Monday.
“I addressed it with the team. We don’t focus on the uncontrollables. I don’t focus on officiating,” McCarthy said Monday. “We focus on the fundamentals (of tackling), doing things right — footwork, approach, strike and finish of any tackle.
“And I felt Clay did what he was asked to do. Obviously, they saw it differently. For me to sit here and dispute it is really a waste of everybody’s time.”
Asked if he felt calls such as the one referee Tony Corrente made on Matthews should be subject to instant replay review, McCarthy said, “Well, I think anytime a play can change the game. … We’re not going to sit there and gripe and moan and count on them to get a call to win the game.
“But also, when you have a chance to reflect and evaluate, everybody’s about trying to improve. We’re no different. We give the feedback that’s part of the process for the officiating department.”
Speaking to a pool reporter after the game, Corrente said Matthews was flagged because he took Cousins and “lifted him and drove him into the ground. … It has nothing to do with the rule of full body weight. It has nothing to do with helmet to helmet. He picked the quarterback up and drove him into the ground.”
While McCarthy said it was incumbent on the Packers defense to respond to the call by still holding the Vikings, Matthews was clearly upset that the call went against him.
“If you aren’t being biased, I think it was a legal hit. You can’t help but think if you didn’t have that call, how does this game go?,” Matthews said. “At the same time, you’re bewildered as far as what to think, what to do, how to feel. That’s frustrating, no doubt about it.
“I know there’s an emphasis on protecting quarterbacks, but it’s gotten out of control. I don’t know what else to do. It’s frustrating because Jaire’s interception, that’s game, right?
“Instead, they go down and score — overtime. We had opportunities to win the game, no doubt about it, but (it’s) frustrating to allow a call which I feel like I did the right thing to influence the game.”
McCarthy said the Packers, who were flagged for only one roughing-the-passer penalty all of last season, have talked about how the plays are being officiated and are trying to adjust accordingly.
McCarthy also acknowledged that a roughing-the-passer call on Minnesota’s Eric Kendricks for hitting Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers appeared incorrect.
“It’s definitely a topic. I mean, we’ve had four (penalties) in two weeks. Anytime patterns become abnormal, I mean, there’s a reason behind it,” McCarthy said. “The way that particular play is being officiated is different. But in Clay’s particular case, I felt that he did what he was coached to do.
“You’ve got to make sure you’re looking at all the variables. I’m not sure that all the variables are clear right now. You look at both of the penalties that were called in the game, the quarterbacks, they’re trying to throw the ball.
“I think that’s where a little bit of the gray area is in the judgment of the defender hitting the quarterback. Because I get what the goal is, and we’re all for the goal being achieved. But in the same breath we’ve got to make sure it’s not a competitive disadvantage to the pass rusher trying to hit the quarterback.”
McCarthy said a holding penalty on guard Lane Taylor, which wiped out Jimmy Graham’s touchdown catch also bothered him. “Frankly, I was more upset about that call than Clay’s,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy didn’t think Rodgers was any worse for wear after playing with a large brace to protect his injured left knee. “I mean he’s obviously sore. That’s to be expected,” McCarthy said. “He’s a warrior, just for what he gave us yesterday. (It) was outstanding. But I don’t have a read on whether he’s better this week than last week.”
McCarthy said he wouldn’t know until Wednesday whether second-year cornerback Kevin King’s groin injury is significant enough to keep him out of Sunday’s game at Washington. King was out of the game when Cousins threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to get the Vikings going during the second half. “We’re different when he’s in there,” McCarthy said of King.