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Clay Matthews miffed over crucial roughing penalty

The Green Bay Packers had just forced Kirk Cousins to throw a crushing interception. It was time to party at Lambeau Field -- until it wasn't.

If this were a visual piece, this is where we'd insert the tight shot on a single yellow flag sitting on a patch of green grass.

Clay Matthews Jr. pressured Cousins on the first-down play, hitting the quarterback just after he threw and knocking him to the ground in what appeared to be a legal takedown. But officials saw it differently, calling roughing the passer on Matthews. 

The penalty negated the interception, giving Minnesota new life. The Vikings went down the field, scoring the game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion eight plays later.

Matthews was miffed after the game, lost for an explanation for what he thought was a clean hit.

"I mean, I don't know even know where to start to be completely honest with you," Matthews said. "I have so many emotions running through as far as just what a terrible call it was. But at the same time, I don't know what else to do. I mean, I don't know. You let me know.

"Tell me: Did I put pressure on him? I thought I hit him within his waist, his chest. I got my head across, put my hands down. To call it at that point of the game is just unbelievable. Last week, OK, shame on me. But this week, that's unbelievable.

"The worst part is we'll probably send it in and you know what they'll say? They're gonna say, you know ... They'll find fault on me because they're going to agree with the refs. So I don't know. It's just a difficult call to call. You see how it changed the game, and I know there's an emphasis on protecting quarterbacks, but it's gotten out of control here. I don't know what else to do."

Referee Tony Corrente explained after the game officials believed Matthews picked up Cousins and drove him into the ground. It was not a body-weight penalty, Corrente clarified, though Matthews said he didn't receive an explanation in the moments after the play.

It's no coincidence that this same Vikings-Packers matchup produced a new amendment to the roughing the passer rule after Anthony Barr landed on top of Aaron Rodgers in a similar fashion last season (though Barr's was much more of a drive into the ground than Matthews'). Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone and the league eventually made the change in an effort to avoid such injuries moving forward.

Similar calls were made last week, with one later being corrected by the league office after the fact (Myles Garrett's hit on Ben Roethlisberger). But this instance is different, because Corrente said it had nothing to do with the body-weight amendment, according to the post-game referee pool report.

On Sunday, it directly affected the outcome of the game, taking away what would have been a game-sealing interception. The Vikings and Packers ended up tying in overtime, 29-29.

"I'm not one to go there especially in front of cameras, but it was questionable," Packers receiver Davante Adams said. "It was lopsided completely. The (pass interference) on me when we don't get it later on in the end zone on the other side. It's terrible, but it is where it is. That's why you can't put the officials in that position to determine the outcome of the game . So if ... we handle business, then we don't even go there. But it was terrible."

With 24 to 48 hours available to review calls leaguewide, we can almost guarantee we're not done discussing this ruling.

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