NFL admitted to botched roughing the passer call on Za’Darius Smith
Bad roughing the passer calls have been an issue in the NFL for the past several years, and that theme continued on Sunday when Za’Darius Smith was flagged for a clean hit on Jameis Winston. The Green Bay Packers were not pleased about it, and it would appear the league understands why.
The Packers were desperately trying to get back in the game down 24-3 late in the third quarter, and it appeared they finally came up with a big play when they intercepted Jameis Winston in the end zone. The play did not stand, however, as Za’Darius Smith was called for roughing the passer for a hit on Winston. Smith tackled Winston with his arm and made no contact with the quarterback’s head. The pass-rusher also did not lead with his helmet. You can see a video of the play here.
On Thursday, Packers coach Matt LaFleur hinted that the NFL admitted its mistake.
Matt LaFleur says he's heard from the NFL about Za'Darius Smith's roughing-the-passer penalty. He would not say what the league expressed, but indicated there was agreement over the lack of penalty. "Yeah, it makes you feel really good when, you know, 'My bad.'"
— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) September 16, 2021
The Packers probably would not have won the game anyway, but the Saints took advantage of the bad call and scored a touchdown on the drive to increase their lead to 31-3. Smith had every right to be frustrated.
The NFL wants to protect quarterbacks, but we saw some truly horrible roughing the passer penalties last season. Officials need to find a way to do a better job with those plays.