Aaron Rodgers was whistled for a 15-yard facemask penalty in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s NFC championship game when he stiff-armed Robert Alford so hard that the Atlanta Falcons cornerback’s helmet came off.
Not that it mattered much during a blowout loss to the Falcons, but the Green Bay Packers quarterback believes he didn’t deserve the penalty, which he called the first non-delay-of-game penalty of his career.
“I just told the ref, ‘You know, he picked up the flag when they looked at the JumboTron when I scrambled and did kind of a weird in-between forward and front slide and the guy hit me in the head, and they picked up that penalty [flag],’” Rodgers told reporters Monday, according to ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky. “So I just said, ‘Why don’t you look up at the JumboTron and pick up this penalty?’ Because it obviously wasn’t an excessive blow to the head there deserving of a 15-yard penalty, in my opinion.”
That Alford’s helmet came off made it look much worse than it really was.
“I went for the stiff-arm, and I’m not a stiff-arm connoisseur,” Rodgers joked. “My thumb slipped through his facemask, his helmet was on loosely, and his helmet came off.”
Looking at the video, Rodgers does get his thumb caught in Alford’s facemask, but he doesn’t appear to be trying to rip off the defender’s helmet. With the Packers trailing 44-15 at that point of the game, maybe referee Bill Vinovich could have given Rodgers the benefit of the doubt on that call.