4 Downs: Late hit on Aaron Rodgers should have drawn penalty
Every week I’ll share four observations the day after the Green Bay Packers' game. Here they are after the Packers’ 23-10 loss Sunday in Minnesota:
Going by how the NFL has been calling hits on the quarterback the last couple years, Anthony Barr should have been penalized for his hit that broke Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone. The ball was gone when Barr still was a step away, so he should have been able to pull up, but he instead went through with the tackle. This wasn’t Charles Martin dumping Jim McMahon on his shoulder several seconds after throwing the ball. It wasn’t a blatantly, horrible malicious hit. But it was a tick late, and Barr drove Rodgers into the ground pretty good. He wasn’t penalized, but by today’s rules he should have been. We’ll see whether the NFL agrees later this week when it hands out fines.
Jeff Janis’ misjudged kickoff return early in the second quarter cost him the kickoff-return job for the rest of the day. Janis inexplicably let Kai Forbath’s kickoff bounce before he fielded it at the 6, which gave Minnesota’s cover team extra time to get downfield. Janis’ return got only to the 17. Trevor Davis handled all the kickoff returns after that. He returned two for an average of 27.5 yards. Though Janis had handled all the kickoff returning in the first five games, he’d actually been downing almost all of them for touchbacks. His return Sunday was only his second of the season.
One play late in the first quarter exemplified the inconsistencies that have plagued third-year cornerbacks Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins the last couple seasons. On a first-and-15, Vikings running back Latavius Murray caught a swing pass, and both Rollins and Randall had shots at tackling him for a short gain. But Murray avoided both. Linebacker Blake Martinez, on the other hand, was able to face down Murray in the open field, just as Randall and Rollins had, but was able to take Murray down after the back had picked up nine yards. Lenzy Pipkins replaced Randall after that play, though it’s unclear whether Randall was pulled because of the missed tackle or for another reason.
The Packers were Dez Bryant-ed on Sunday. Remember Bryant’s big catch that was overturned late in the Packers-Cowboys playoff game in January 2015 because he didn’t maintain possession through hitting the ground? The same thing happened to Ty Montgomery, and it cost the Packers a touchdown. On a third-and-goal, Brett Hundley had made a tough last-second throw to Montgomery over the middle for what should have been an eight-yard touchdown. But Montgomery juggled the ball at first, and as he turned and fell he reached to the ball to the goal line with nobody near him. But the ball popped out of his hands as it hit the ground. So as the rule has been written and interpreted, it was correctly called incomplete. The thing is, Montgomery could have just cradled the ball and hit the ground short of the end zone and still rolled in, because no tackler was near him.