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Key Clay Matthews foul arose from “burping,” not body weight

The NFL now aggressively enforces landing on a quarterback with all or most of a defensive player’s body weight. That controversial new rule did not help decide the Vikings-Packers game.

The Vikings had the ball late, down 29-21. An interception by Packers rookie cornerback Jaire Alexander appeared to seal the victory for Green Bay. But then came a flag, and Packers linebacker Clay Matthews found himself called for roughing the passer.

“When he hit the quarterback, he lifted him and drove him into the ground,” referee Tony Corrente said after the game, in a pool report. “It has nothing to do with the rule of full body weight. . . . He picked the quarterback up and drove him into the ground.”

Some within the league refer to the Matthews maneuver as “burping” the quarterback. It’s irrelevant to the flattening that happens when a defensive player lands on the passer, like Tony Siragusa once did in the playoffs to Rich Gannon. “Burping” happens when the defensive player scoops and drives the quarterback into the turf.

And as Tony Dungy explained during NBC’s Football Night in America, at least Corrente was consistent. He flagged Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks earlier in the game for a similar hit on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

While none of this will placate the Packers and their fans, it’s one of the basic realities in a league without enough good quarterbacks -- and with a strong incentive to keep the ones they have healthy.