Clay Matthews: Roughing the passer penalties 'out of control' after 'unbelievable' flag

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Clay Matthews accepted responsibility for his roughing the passer penalty that nearly cost the Packers their season-opening victory against the Chicago Bears. He didn't feel the same way a week later after he was flagged again Sunday on a play that wiped out a potentially game-clinching interception late in the fourth quarter of Green Bay's 29-29 tie with the Minnesota Vikings.

Matthews was flagged for a hit on Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, whose deep throw was picked off by rookie Jaire Alexander -- a play that would have given Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers the ball back with 1 minute, 37 seconds on the clock and a 29-21 lead. Instead, Cousins capped the drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Adam Thielen with 31 seconds left in regulation, followed by a two-point conversion pass to Stefon Diggs.

"I have so many emotions running through as far as what a terrible call it was," Matthews said. "At the same time, I don't know what else to do. I don't know. You let me know. You tell me. Did I put pressure on him? I thought I hit him within his waist to chest, I got my head across, put my hands down. To call it at that point in the game is unbelievable.

"Last week, OK, shame on me. This week, that's unbelievable. The worst part is, we'll probably send it in, and you know what they're going to say? They'll find fault on me because they're going to agree with the refs. I don't know. It's a difficult call to call.

"You see how it changed the game. I know there's an emphasis on protecting quarterbacks, but it's gotten out of control. I don't know what else to do. It's frustrating because Jaire's interception, that's game [over], right? Instead, they go down and score, overtime, this and that.

"We had opportunities to win the game, no doubt about it, but frustrating to allow a call which I feel like I did the right thing to influence the game. I don't know. I'm trying to bite my tongue, but I obviously don't agree with it."

Referee Tony Corrente explained to ESPN, which handled the referee's pool report, what he saw.

"When [Matthews] hit the quarterback, he lifted him and drove him into the ground," Corrente said.

He added that the penalty did not fall under the new rules established for this season.

"Not at all," he said. "It has nothing to do with the rule of full body weight. It has nothing to do with helmet to helmet. He picked the quarterback up and drove him into the ground."

When asked what Matthews should have done differently, Corrente said: "Not picked him up and drove him into the ground."

Matthews said he did not get an explanation on the field. He also was not privy to Corrente's explanation at the time when he spoke to reporters because the pool report was being conducted simultaneously in the officials' locker room.

"I know what to say; it's just I don't want to lose any more money, you know?" Matthews said. "I'll go back, watch the film, see if there was anything I could change, but I feel pretty good about that hit. You put in so much work, and you hate for one play ... I take a lot of responsibility with the way we're supposed to play the game. It's obviously not one play that defines a game but, at the same time, that was a pivotal play."

Matthews was not fined for his fourth-quarter hit on Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in Week 1. It came on a fourth-down play on the Bears' final series. Later on that drive, fellow Packers outside linebacker Nick Perry ended that series with a sack on a fourth-down play.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said in the opening statement of his postgame news conference that he was "not really interested in taking any official questions or that nonsense."

Said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer on enforcing hits to the quarterback: "It's pretty difficult. You've got a target area the size of a strike zone, and then you can't fall on top of them, and then you can't hit them in the knees, and you can't hit them low, and you can't hit them in the head, so you have to hit them in the strike zone, and then you can't fall on them."

Packers wide receiver Davante Adams also took issue with the officiating after he was called for an offensive pass interference penalty that wiped out a 24-yard catch in the second quarter.

"The reffing today, I'm not one to even go there, especially in front of the cameras, but it was questionable all game," said Adams, who finished with 8 catches for 64 yards and 1 touchdown. "It was lopsided completely. The PI on me when we don't get it later on in the end zone on the other side, it's terrible.

"That's why you can't put the officials in position to determine the outcome of the game. If you keep your foot to the metal right there and we handle business, we don't even go there, but it was terrible."