Matthews said afterward that penalties are “out of control.”
On Sunday, after a similar — yet different — roughing penalty on Alex Smith, the Packers linebacker said the league is “getting soft.”
“Obviously, I don’t agree with it again,” Matthews said, via Michael Cohen of The Athletic. “Whereas last week I thought I hit the quarterback correctly, head was to the side again, wrapped him up and you see as soon as I hit the ground you see me try and pull my hands out. Obviously when you’re tackling a guy from the front, you’re going to land on him. I understand the spirit of the rule. I said that [in] weeks prior. When you have a hit like that, that’s a football play. I even went up to Alex Smith after the game and asked him, ‘What do you think? What can I do differently?’ Because that’s a football play. Like I said last week, the NFL’s going to come back and say I put my body on him. But that’s a football play. I hit him from the front, got my head across, wrapped up. I’ve never heard of anybody tackling somebody without any hands. When he gives himself up as soon as you hit him, your body weight’s going to go on him. I think we’re looking for the hits that took Aaron [Rodgers] out last year, that little extra. If I wanted to hurt him, I could’ve. I could have put some extra on him, but that’s football. I don’t know. I really don’t know.
“Unfortunately, this league is 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 that they levy down on guys like me who play the game hard. I don’t know. I’m just going to keep playing hard. Maybe now pass rushers and guys getting after the quarterback, you just have to attack the ball. I’ve been playing this game for over 20 years. That’s how you tackle. So we’ll see. I mean, something’s got to change because the league’s not. . . . Like I said last week, these are big plays. So disappointed. I tried to change from last week and still get the flag. It’s unfortunate.”
Matthews had roughing penalties in each of the first two games but was not fined for either hit.
His hit on Cousins last week allowed the Vikings’ new life. Instead of a Packers’ victory, the game ended in a tie as it wiped out an interception by Jaire Alexander. The league used the play as a “teaching tool” for teams last week.
The league office already has posted an explanation on Twitter for Matthews’ penalty today, saying the foul occurred because Matthews landed “with all or most of the defender’s weight” on Washington quarterback Alex Smith.