Football is a physical game, but even the NFL has limits on what is out of bounds when it comes to one player putting his hands on another.
Early in the fourth quarter, Packers offensive guard Lucas Patrick got tangled up with Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald. What ensued appeared clearly to be a personal foul committed by Donald, and a dangerous one at that, as he grabbed Patrick around the throat and tried to chokeslam him backward.
However, no referees threw a flag on the play, even though one official was close enough to the action when it happened to break the men apart with his own two hands.
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The Barstool Sports Twitter account posted video of the play online, pointing out the double standard of officiating displayed within the no-call by comparing it to the enhanced, and highly subjective, rules against taunting implemented by the NFL this season.
“Pointing: a penalty,” the tweet said. “Darth Vadering someone: not a penalty.”
Donald’s Dirty Play Should Have Resulted in Packers First Down
Donald’s chokeslam should have garnered a personal foul at the very least, based on NFL rules involving players who make contact with the neck and head areas of opponents after a play. Offenders who commit similar fouls, like throwing a punch to the helmet or face mask of an opposing player, typically are not thrown out of games for such offenses unless those penalties are committed multiple times. However, such offenders are more or less universally assessed 15-yard penalties if caught in the act by the referees.
The video evidence against Donald is overwhelming, and it is plain to see that such a penalty should have been assessed. Donald’s chokeslam attempt on Patrick occurred after a 3rd and 6 play by Green Bay at approximately the team’s own 40-yard line. There were 12 minutes and 52 seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter, with the Packers leading 36-25.
The no-call by the officials left Green Bay with no choice but to punt. What could have been a turning point in the game did not end up costing the Packers, as they held the Rams off on the way to a 36-28 victory. Still, the decision by the referees to keep their flags holstered puzzled players and spectators alike due to the obvious and egregious nature of Donald’s offense.
Faltering Rams Could Have Sparked Donald’s Frustration
The Packers have had the Rams’ number for a while now.
L.A. has gone all-in on over the last few seasons, mortgaging much of its future draft capital to acquire the likes of cornerback Jalen Ramsey and quarterback Matthew Stafford, among several others. But the so-called “All-Star” squad assembled in sunny Southern California has not held up well against Green Bay.
The Packers dispatched the Rams from the NFC Divisional Playoff round back in January by a score of 32-18. That game was held at frigid Lambeau Field, a distinct advantage for Green Bay against any opponent, particularly one used to playing the majority of its games in warm weather climates.
Following their victory Sunday, the Packers are likely to have the same edge should the two teams meet again in the postseason this year. Green Bay is now 9-3 and currently the No. 2 seed in the NFC, a half-game behind the Arizona Cardinals as the Packers head into their bye week. The Rams are 7-4 and will play the Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday.
The Packers own the tiebreaker against both the Cardinals and the Rams, who will square off for the second time on Monday Night Football December 13.