People who think the NFL is getting too soft got some new ammo yesterday. Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers was flagged for 'roughing the passer' after his hit on Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith.
It was a monster hit . . . Clay rammed into Alex helmet-to-shoulder, and then fell on top of him. But it didn't seem 'dirty,' or like something that should be penalized in the NFL, where Clay's whole objective is rushing the passer and sacking him.
After the game, Clay said, quote, "Unfortunately this league's going in a direction I think a lot of people don't like. I think they're getting soft. The only thing hard about this league is the fines they levy down on guys like me who play the game hard."
The NFL defended the ref's call: Quote, "This [is] roughing the passer. The defender lands "with all or most of the defender's weight" on the passer. They also linked to the rule, and the video. But Clay insisted it was "a football play."
The league has made this rule a point of emphasis for this season, ironically, because Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone last season on a similar hit. However, Redskins lineman Daron Payne threw Aaron to the turf yesterday, but was NOT flagged.
(Here's video of Clay talking about the hit after the game.)