Enforcement of Sweezy personal foul was a judgment call

Getty Images

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.

85 responses to “Enforcement of Sweezy personal foul was a judgment call

  1. That play was clearly after that fact when Wilson and Matthews were on the ground, so I was also surprised that he didn’t get extra 15 yards for that action.

  2. The genius McCarthy would have rushed one rusher instead of 2 if it were 3rd and 45. This guy is constantly holding his team back.

  3. Yeah, why? The NFL has a lot bigger rules problems than that.

    And Matthews should have been ejected for his hit on Wilson. Clear intent to injure.

  4. I was wondering about this at the time of the play? It looked like both players were already on the ground when the guy drilled Matthews, how can they say it was during the play? BS

  5. If it didn’t occur after the play, what exactly was the penalty? Because the only thing that could make it a penalty is it being a late hit, by definition occurring after the play ended. If it was not a late hit then it was simply a guard blocking a defensive player.

  6. A PF like that should be tacked on to the result of the play. In both games I noticed several forearm shots to the head and I only remember one getting flagged (Wilfork) but that was more for being late than a head shot. That would ‘s the kind of stuff they should be targeting rather than the ridiculous call on the guy who hit Brady. That was no foul and the blowhard ex-ref on TV was wrong, again.

  7. Or not. Enough with your draconian stance on penalties. Did you miss the fact that an obviously steroid riddled Matthews was doing his best to attempt to injure Wilson? Lest you forget the cheap shot he took on Russ in an attempt to put him out of the game? Maybe his ass should of been ejected? Why don’t you stay home with the packers next week!
    Go Hawks!

  8. See I thought the call was that it was after the play. If it Was during the play that’s different. That happens all the time trying to knock the guy off his QB. They were still rolling around he could have freed Wilson.

  9. I totally agree with dbara43, Matthews should have been ejected, it was a dirty play and it happened more than once. I was a fan of Matthews before i watched this game. He is almost as dirty as Suh. lost respect for him.

  10. Wouldn’t have mattered. GB wen to prevent and couldn’t stop a 2nd and 30 or 3rd and 19. On the third down play, there was an illegal hands to face penalty on clay matthews that was declined. Even if you back them up on Sweezy’s hit, that penalty gives them a first down.

  11. thegreenandcold – exactly. It’s not a penalty during the play. It’s one guy jumping on another guy. And if the QB is lying on the ground with a defender on top of him, how is that during the play? The play was over.

  12. That was a bizarre call. Can you imaging if that had been a defensive player who landed on the pile at that same moment? An even stranger defensive call was to rush two guys a few plays later. Could be the dumbest defensive call of the playoffs.

  13. I too was confused by the non call late hit clearly after the play was over . The reffing in the NFL is getting ridiculous and so arbitrary you just don’t know what they are going to call . I also think they should quit with the booth official comments, he in 99% of the cases just says YES that was the correct call even though a trained monkey can see it wasn’t correct . For a league that seems overly concerned with player conduct they sure run a loose ship with the officiating of their precious game . This offseason the league needs to seriously look at how games are officiated and consider full time refs and also rule changes .

  14. The funny thing is I read Seahawk fans bragging really your bragging about your team sucking so bad your QB had a 0 QBR for the first half. Your team sucked and play this bad against New England and there will be no come back just another SB lost for you. Be happy you won but I wouldn’t brag about a lucky ass win… and that is being nice… And how about those fans leave the game early there are true fans… No wonder Seattle has no Basketball there is no support when the team is down only when they are winning…

  15. Not being able to score more than 22 points, even after five turnovers with many of them coming on Seattle’s end of the field, was the reason Green Bay lost. If Rodgers doesn’t throw an INT to Sherman in the red zone while backing up (remind anyone of good ‘ol #4?), if McCarthy doesn’t kick a pair of 20-yard field goals, etc….

    Rodgers’ arrogance won’t let him admit the truth–the better team DID win. Seattle scored more points. End of story. What an epic fail by the Packers.

    I’ve seen my Vikings blow so many games but I still can’t believe Green Bay lost. Seattle did everything it could to hand that game to the Packers and Green Bay still found a way to lose. Hilarious

  16. For it to have been after the play, the whistle would have had to be blown. Since it hadn’t been blown, it was considered during the play.


  17. Dear Packers Fans,

    You just got to spend 57 minutes enjoying the feeling of beating the best team in the NFL. I thought that was a pretty nice gift. Where’s the gratitude?

  18. If he was to be fined than long hair Clay should had been fine more than him for trying to break Romo’s leg. I have said before the game that Rodgers will throw 2 or more int. Was I right?

  19. No where in the article does it mention the whistle. The whistle blowing is what officially delineates when the play is live or dead. Players are coached and told to keep playing until the whistle. If Sweezy made the hit on Matthews before the whistle then it’s a good call.

  20. The whistle determines when the play is dead. If the whistle hadn’t blown, the play was not dead…

  21. That next play cost The Packers the game. They rushed 2 or 3 and got no pressure, which is exactly when Russel Wilson is at his best. He’ll run around and eventually someone will come open. Once that happened, it was a shot in the arm for an offense that had done nothing all day. Terrible defensive call by Capers.

  22. “Sweezy dove on top of Packers linebacker Clay Matthews as Matthews was taking quarterback Russell Wilson to the ground.”

    What he did is known as “picking a player off a pile.”

    It was late too.

  23. As a Hawk fan really like and respect Rogers but Mathews can kiss it. As far as blaming the refs? Cmon the Packers had an all time melt down blame them for the choke and give credit to the Hawks for taking advantage. The Seattle D was legendary , unreal performance by them. Our D allowed 6 points off 5 turnovers!!

  24. The player who should be fined is Clay Matthews, for his dirty helmet to helmet hit on Russell Wilson.

  25. I thought the same thing about Clay Matthews. His mission was to take out Wilson. I hope his fined… heavily. And tested for PEDS

    On another note which is not the topic of this article— the Aarogance of Aaron Rodgers. His smug mug throughout the game was ridiculous.

  26. Matthews is a dirty player, he shouldn’t have even been in the game after his head hit on Wilson. Sweezy was just trying to protect his QB from another attempt by scumbag Matthews from injuring him. The play was still in motion & it was not a late hit. So justice was served.

    And if the Packers were better yesterday why did they lose every statistical category, including the scoreboard?


  27. I thought personal fouls were always tacked on to the play, whether they happened after the play or not. How is this different than roughing the passer or facemask? Those both happen during the play but are added to the end result. I was rooting mildly for Seattle, but I thought it should have been 2nd and 46.

  28. I’ve always been a guy who gives someone chances but MM AND DC you were intimidated by the Seahawks both in game one and this last epic fail. We as Loyal Packers fans are tired of your gutless non aggressive play calling when playing Seattle. We’re tired of getting teased every time we win the division. I’m beginning to think that winning the division is all you care about. I think it’s time for a change or at the very least a change in your philosophy. We feel for all the players it’s time for you to speak out about the Packers administration. If I was an NFL Team owner looking for head coaches you guys certainly wouldn’t even be considered. I can’t describe in words how this loss has affected Packers Fans.

  29. It’s starting to feel like ‘professional’ wrestling. I’m waiting for someone to hit a player with a chair while the ref has his back turned.

  30. OK, pet peeve, you may want to ignore this rant. All personal fouls SHOULD be dead ball fouls. AND…this half the distance to the goal business when the ball is inside the 5 yard line is bs. Again, it’s basically a free personal foul. If it’s on the defense, put the ball on the goal line and make it a first down. If it’s on the offense, put the ball on the goal line and move the first down marker, so it’s first and 25.

  31. I used to like and respect Matthews but after the Romo late hit last week and the sucker punch hit on Russell yesterday, he is a dirtbag who should be fined by the NFL!
    Go Hawks!

  32. One play in that game is not the reason Green Bay lost. I hate the sea slugs with a passion but they simply outplayed the Packers in the second half and were by far the better team in the end. Couple that with McCarthy’s conservative play calling and the cheese people were destined to lose.

  33. Let’s recap:

    – Detroit gets screwed hard by the officials in Dallas.
    – Dallas gets jobbed on a questionable catch versus Green Bay.
    – Green Bay pulls off the greatest choke seen in the NFL in ages.

    When you think about it, everything worked out in the end.

  34. R-E-L-A-X…..Aaron’s gonna call tails for OT, and everything’s gonna be all right. Whoopsie!

    Now, every team knows to never give up against the Packers, because you can always come back and beat those chokers.

  35. There’s already too many rules and the fact is that many are so complicated that even the referees, coaches, let alone players, don’t fully understand them which makes it easy to make mistakes that can influence a game. The NFL is taking the sport out of the game and lengthy reviews are killing any sense of spirited competition. Football is a physical game and when a large body is hurling forward it’s not always possible to stop midair so there’s always going to be controversy about when impact occurred. Trying to create more rules is not the answer. I’m for going back to call’em like you see’em and let the chips fall, do away with the replays, the lengthy reviews, and interpretations of the too complicated set of rules, as they still don’t seem to be able to get it right,(as we have seen in the playoffs already) and there is no unringing of the bell in the longrun. There are no innocent angels and usually what goes around comes around sooner or later (karma for the Lions,Cowboys, Packers, and others) The NFL is killing the sport and the media is a willing accomplice!

  36. So then the Packers should have had first and goal from the 21 instead of first and 10 from the 21 after the taunting penalty on GB’s interception returned to the 6. If that’s a dead ball foul, why doesn’t that tack on the penalty yards to the next possession.

    Oh yeah, and Matthews should have been ejected.

  37. I never ever thought of Mathews being a “Dirty” player, but seeing the last 2 weeks, he is very dirty. His career is coming apart, and this is what he resorts to! Good for Squeez protecting his teammate.

  38. Matthews is a dirty player. He took a cheap shot on Wilson during the interception return. He drew a penalty but should have been ejected for a hit like that on a QB. Sweezy was just protecting his QB. Sweezy is the enforcer this year now that Breno is no longer in Seattle. Good Job, Big Guy! Rip that punks face off!

  39. Well deserved for the cheap-shot Mathews threw on Wilson earlier in the game on a senseless “block” that had nothing to do with the play. They’ll both be getting fines.

  40. If you packer fans don’t want mike m send him to Oakland we would love to have him . You all have been spoiled the last twenty years .. Favre now Rodgers must be nice to have all pro QBS for twenty five years straight.. You have a great team ,great coach’s great GM great fans now use this as motivation for next year and FINISH every game .. That was a team loss not the coach. Did the coach give up that 40 yard pass to beast mode. Did the coach drop the on side kick did the coach give up that 2 point conversion ????Green Bay had a great year be proud of that a hang your heads high. Dont be like Patriot fans they have NO CLASS top to bottom .

  41. The only argument one could make about Sweezy’s personal foul happening during the play is he had Matthew’s lined up before the play was over and like hockey he was just finishing his hit, but I think it occurred after the play was over and should have been a dead ball foul. I think all personal fouls should be enforced regardless of when they occur.

  42. >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.

    That doesn’t sound too smart. As one example: roughing the punter would then no longer be a 1st down for the kicking team, but just push the receiving team back 15 yards.

  43. It was clear Matthews attempted to take Wilson out of the game with a high and vicious blindsided hit aimed at his head. Where is the uproar over Matthews QB hunting???

    Yeah right…CRICKETS!!

  44. “The genius McCarthy would have rushed one rusher instead of 2 if it were 3rd and 45. This guy is constantly holding his team back.”

    You don’t even know enough about McCarthy or the Packers to even make that comment. McCarthy doesn’t call the defensive plays genius.

  45. skawh says:Jan 19, 2015 1:01 PM

    It was clear Matthews attempted to take Wilson out of the game with a high and vicious blindsided hit aimed at his head. Where is the uproar over Matthews QB hunting???

    Yeah right…CRICKETS!!


    And clearly penalised for it. Don’t make your fanbase look bad by posting drivel. Your qb attempted to make a tackle, he involved himself in the play and got drilled, albeit illegally and the correct flag was thrown. Sometimes football is tough. Your defense knows this,,,,

  46. Nothing to see here, he was probably all drugged up like the rest of them, and side effects included: lack of caring, inability to hear whistles, and cheapshotitis

  47. seattle sucks…..the packers absolutely manhandled you rag dolls…..what a sorry excuse for a team….and loaded with useless big mouths…

  48. That penalty was clearly after the play as Wilson was already down, whistle blown and ref waving his arms. I told my son it should be 2nd and 46.

  49. @ pathsovglory says:Jan 19, 2015 10:19 AM

    Make a story about this but not Clay Matthews hitting Russell on a high-low hit to the temple…. alright
    Matthews was penalized for that hit and he actually didn’t play another down either.
    I’m not a Packer apologist at all. I want the game officiated correclty. Green Bay choked in all three phases: offesne, defense and special teams. The offense choked throughout, but defense and special teams saved their choking for the final 5 minutes.

  50. That fact that it was a personal foul at all means that it was after the play was over. I was scratching my head at that. Regardless, Clay committed an “automatic first down” penalty on 3rd down anyway. Granted it would have been theoretically a much longer 3rd down and maybe he would haven’t jacked the guy in the face… but… let’s face it:
    NOTHING was getting in the way of the Packers loosing that game yesterday.

  51. Clay Mathews took at least a couple of cheap shots at Wilson. He was flagged for one and given a pass on the second. Here’s hoping the cheapshot beachboy makes the ir next season.

  52. The hits on Romo and Russell were cheap by Barbie Matthews. It was still 3rd and 19 after that call and couldnt get the stop…. Reminiscent of the 4th and 26 you packers gave up to the Eagles a few years back. Get over it… It was one call… You got 5 turnovers and 6 points out of them. That is why you lost…. And Dez caught it… Next.. congrats Seahawks on the most improbable win I have ever seen. It sure was fun to watch

  53. dgt178 says:
    Jan 19, 2015 1:34 PM
    seattle sucks…..the packers absolutely manhandled you rag dolls…..what a sorry excuse for a team….and loaded with useless big mouths…

    and yet, despite getting 5 turnovers. the packers lost. despite russell wilson having the worst game of his career, aand something like 20 passing yards at halftime – he outpassed Rodgers. Marshawn Lynch, after being shut down for the first half, ran for over 150.

    yup, we’re just sucking our way to a second super bowl.

  54. The refs didn’t change the outcome of this game, but they really were not that good. It’s dumb luck that they didn’t mess something up at a key point:

    Stuff they missed:

    – The call in this article
    – GB pick play that gave Cobb a TD
    – SEA jumped in the neutral zone on the Sherman pick
    – Kevin Williams removing his helmet to celebrate after a 3rd down goalline stop (he did put it back on)
    – Russell Wilson facemasked on a sack
    – Jordy Nelson facemasked while the ball was in the air to him
    – OPI on Kearse in the last 4 minutes

  55. If it didn’t occur after the play, then it’s a block. That call had me scratching my head. Of course it broke Seattle’s way. I like Seattle but they are so unbelievably lucky.

  56. I believe the difference is the whistle. The player doesn’t know if there is a loose ball or what so he continues to play until the whistle blows to let him know that the play has ended. Had he let up and the ball had indeed come out, we would be talking about how he shouldn’t have given up on the play until the whistle blows. I agree however, that the way he dove into Matthews was a penalty because he lead with his head.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.