The Green Bay Packers found themselves stuck somewhere between worried and outraged late in Sunday’s win over the San Francisco 49ers when star wide receiver Davante Adams took a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit and was left lying motionless on the field for a few minutes.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur and quarterback Aaron Rodgers were both emotive about the lack of penalty flags flying after Adams took a shot to the head from 49ers free safety Jimmie Ward. While Adams was able to eventually walk off under his own power, it seemed possible that he might not return to the game given the NFL’s protocols in terms of concussions and other head injuries.
Instead, Adams missed only a single play before returning to the fold and went on to catch two huge passes — for 25 and 17 yards, respectively — on the Packers’ final drive that helped set up a game-winning field goal for Mason Crosby. He finished the night with 12 total receptions for 132 yards and a first-quarter touchdown.
So, after such a nasty shot, how did Adams manage to tough it out?
“I’m different,” Adams told reporters in Week 3’s postgame. “That’s probably the main thing. I’ve dealt with a lot of stuff like that, and just the mental toughness to get in there, to know. It wasn’t a concussion, so I went on the sideline (and) they evaluated me and saw it right away that, you know, I was straight. Really more than anything on the ground, it was my chest, I was having trouble catching a breath, but (I’m) definitely good now.”
Adams also dismissed any worries about the hit potentially lingering for him into next week and putting his status in jeopardy for Week 4’s home game against Pittsburgh.
“No, I’ll play next week,” he said.
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Rodgers Explains Talk With Refs After Hit on Adams
Rodgers was admittedly unhappy about the helmet-to-helmet hit that Ward put on his favorite passing target. He threw his arms up immediately following the hit and later could be seen having conversations with both the officiating crew and Ward himself after figuring out which player had delivered the dangerous blow to Adams.
“From where I was at, it looked like helmet-to-helmet,” Rodgers said. “My first question was for the back judge. I always have respect for the officials. It’s a tough job to do in real-time to make decisions, so I was asking him what he saw on the play. He gave me a great dissertation. And then I was wondering who hit my guy. That was the extent of the conversation.”
More astonishing than the no-call, however, was how fast Adams came back into the game for the Packers after getting knocked down. Rodgers told reporters he initially thought Adams had gotten knocked out on the play but was relieved — and amazed — when it turned out to be a chest issue that allowed him to bounce back more quickly.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Rodgers said. “You know in the league now, the way things have gone, you can’t just come back on the field if it’s a head injury, so I realized it obviously must not have been a head injury. I went over and checked on him as I was questioning the referee about the possible helmet-to-helmet and having a side conversation with Jimmie Ward. I looked at him and he gave me a thumbs up. To me, that seemed like, ‘I just got knocked out and I’m fine.’ I didn’t realize that he just had a hard time breathing and it was nothing to the head.”
NFL Responds to Hit, States All Protocols Were Followed
The morning after Sunday Night Football, the NFL issued a statement on the hit that went into further detail about the protocols followed when Adams came to the sidelined. While there was no mention of whether they felt Ward’s hit was legal (which was the on-field ruling) or if it would warrant any fines, they did support the decision from the medical teams to send Adams back into the game after he was evaluated.
Here’s what the league said:
As with any play that leads to a medical evaluation, we followed up with the Unaffiliated Nuerotrauama Consultant and team medical staff to review the sequence of events. All concussion protocols were fully followed. Adams was cleared by both the Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant and the team doctor. Additionally, the team medical staff continued to monitor him throughout the remainder of the game as is standard practice.