We’ve received more than a few e-mails in the aftermath of Sunday night’s for-the-ages battle between the Packers and the Cardinals regarding the non-call on the play that delivered victory for the home team via a sack, fumble/interception, and 17-yard sprint for a score.
At first, the words “tuck rule” dominated the discussion.
Then, the focal point became the blow to the head and the yanking of the facemask that Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers endured as Arizona defensive back Michael Adams collided into Rodgers.
As one league source said via e-mail, “It should have been a personal foul grabbing the face mask and 15-yard penalty and a first down for Green Bay.”
And we agree, completely. The incidental facemask call disappeared a couple of years ago, replaced by a rule that even a minor grab of the bars attached to the helmet triggers the major infraction.
Moreover, we’ve routinely seen quarterbacks take minor blows to the head and draw flags for roughing the passer.
So what happened? Though the tuck rule didn’t matter because the ball bounced off Rodgers’ foot before it was caught by Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby, the official undoubtedly was watching Rodgers’ arm and the ball for any evidence of the convoluted mechanical process that makes a fumble not a fumble when the quarterback was in the process of moving his arm forward but hadn’t released the ball before having the ball knocked out.
The bigger problem is that the FOX announcers and the folks talking into their ears didn’t bother to delve into the question of whether not one but two penalties had occurred. Joe Buck said “Rodgers gets a hand to the face” during the live call, but Buck and his producer(s) blew an excellent opportunity to explain first that the tuck rule didn’t matter in this case and second that what did matter was the failure of the men in black and white to see that Adams had not only hit Rodgers in the head but also had grabbed and tugged his facemask.
So, yes, Packers fans, you have every right to be upset.
Then again, watch the video. Adams didn’t get a free release from Rodgers’ blind side. He had to cut in front of an underneath receiver before circling into the backfield, and Rodgers could have (and should have) seen Adams coming.
By our count, Rodgers had the ball in his hands for three full seconds before getting hit.
When Rodgers was getting thrown around like a rag doll in the first half of the season, he quietly was being criticized within the locker room for holding the ball too long. And that’s the biggest thing that the Packers need to address this offseason in order to make Rodgers into a guy who can deliver consistently in the clutch.