The drive that ended in the Seahawks scoring their first touchdown in Sunday’s NFC title game included a moment that confused many.
Near the end of a 15-yard sack that left Seattle facing second down and 30 on their own 41, Seahawks offensive lineman J.R. Sweezy drew a personal foul. Sweezy dove on top of Packers linebacker Clay Matthews as Matthews was taking quarterback Russell Wilson to the ground.
But the 15-yard penalty was declined. It was declined because it was determined to have happened during the play. If it had happened after the play, the Seahawks would have been facing second and 45 from their own 26.
Per a league source, it’s a judgment call by the official as to whether the penalty occurred during or after the play. By concluding that it happened during the play, however, the officials gave Sweezy what FOX’s Joe Buck properly described as a “free shot” at Matthews.
Of course, it won’t be entirely free. Sweezy undoubtedly will be fined.
He’ll be able to easily afford it, given that he’ll now get an extra paycheck for playing in the Super Bowl. That may not have happened if the penalty had been deemed to be a dead-ball foul, since it would have been a lot harder for Seattle to finish off a second-and-45 scenario with seven points.
Meanwhile, the NFL should consider a rule change that makes all personal fouls dead-ball fouls, with the yardage marked off no matter the outcome of the play.