NFL reportedly to use Clay Matthews' controversial penalty as example of illegal QB hit

The NFL’s reaction to Clay Matthews’ roughing-the-passer penalty Sunday is a lot different than the reaction out of Green Bay.

While Matthews and everyone else who plays, coaches or roots for the Packers complains about the foul on Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, the NFL will reportedly use it as an example of the type of penalty it wants called.

Sorry, Green Bay, what you saw Matthews do on Sunday is exactly what the NFL thinks is roughing the passer.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero said in the league’s teaching tape of fouls from the previous game, Matthews’ “scoop and pull” technique will be an example of a foul the league wants called.

NFL wants to eliminate “scoop and pull” hits on QBs

Given the outrage over the Matthews’ call, considering it nullified an interception that would have sealed a Packers win, Pelissero’s report on NFL Network was quite interesting.

First, Pelissero reiterated that the penalty wasn’t because Matthews landed with his body weight on Cousins, which is another controversial aspect to the expanded roughing the passer rule. It was because Matthews lifted Cousins up in an upward motion and then drove him into the ground, which is illegal. Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks got called for the same thing earlier in the Vikings-Packers game.

“These are to be considered to be judgment calls, and in the NFL’s judgment in general, that particular technique in is fact against the rules,” Pelissero said on NFL Network.

It’s a lot like the Jesse James catch rule controversy from last season, in that fans can complain about what they saw, but it was called exactly as the NFL wanted it, per its rulebook.

Matthews, Packers upset by the call

Of course, nobody in Wisconsin — aside from some Vikings fans in the western part of the state — want to hear the explanation.

They will believe that the call was bogus.

“I have so many emotions kind of running through as far as what a terrible call it was,” Matthews told reporters after the game. “But at the same time, I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know. You let me know. You tell me. Did I put pressure on him? I thought I hit him within his waist to chest, I got my head across, put my hands down. And to call it at that point in the game is just unbelievable.”

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said there is some gray area on what the roughing penalty is now.

“I get what the goal (of player safety) is, and we’re all for the goal being achieved, but at the same time, you have to make sure it’s not a competitive disadvantage to the pass rusher trying to hit the quarterback,” McCarthy said, according to

It doesn’t seem so complicated to the NFL. Referee Tony Corrente was asked by pool reporter Rob Demovsky of after the game what Matthews could have done to avoid the penalty.

“Not picked him up and drove him into the ground,” Corrente said.

NFL thinks the call was correct

Complaining about officiating is just part of the NFL game. Fans complain, but they always want to talk about how bad calls are. If it’s not the catch rule, it’s the helmet rule. Once the helmet rule controversy calmed down, we found a roughing-the-passer penalty. It will always be something.

This week it will be a lot of drama about Matthews’ penalty. All the while, the NFL is going to use that as a textbook example of an illegal hit on the quarterback.

Green Bay Packers pass rusher Clay Matthews wasn't happy with a roughing-the-quarterback penalty in Sunday's game. (AP)
Green Bay Packers pass rusher Clay Matthews wasn’t happy with a roughing-the-quarterback penalty in Sunday’s game. (AP)

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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