For the second consecutive week, Clay Matthews is at heart of the roughing the passer controversy. The Green Bay Packers linebacker burst through the Washington Redskins line and gobbled up quarterback Alex Smith for what seemed to be a huge second down sack that would have been a loss of 17 yards.
However, the officials had different perception of the sack. Matthews was penalized for roughing the passer, although the hit appeared very clean. Instead of challenging 3rd-and-24 with the Redskins pinned back on their own 29-yard line, with the momentum swinging to Green Bay with the score 28-17 towards the end of the third quarter, the Redskins got an automatic first down and 15 yards.
The call was so egregious, the Packers elected to sit Matthews out the remainder of the series. The Redskins would run another six plays, waste nearly two additional minutes off the clock, and shift the field position before punting to the Packers in the fourth quarter.
After the Redskins’ 31-17 win, Smith said he thought the hit was “football” and part of the game.
“I thought he was playing football,” Smith said of Matthews hit per Ben Standig of the Sports Capitol. “[He] hit me in the strike zone.”
Now, had the sack stood without penalty, there is no way of telling if the Packers would have been able to score another touchdown and cut the deficit. The Redskins defense was doing a solid job containing Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and its offense, however, Rodgers just scored a touchdown two series ago and was one dropped pass by Randall Cobb away from possibly scoring another. And, not to mention Smith hadn’t passed for a single yard in the third quarter.
Still, the chatter following Matthews’ controversial penalty is beyond the outcome of Sunday’s game. Another week, another terrible call by officials. Matthews chastised the league for its officiating of the penalty.
“It’s tough,” Smith added per JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington. “I’m glad I don’t play defense.”