BALTIMORE – When Aaron Rodgers saw the hit Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam put on his wide receiver and friend Randall Cobb, the Green Bay Packers quarterback was angry.
Rodgers had flashbacks to the season-ending knee injury he watched Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller suffer last month when he turned around after catching a pass and being hit low, and he felt Elam had done the same.
After the Packers’ 19-17 victory over the Ravens, Rodgers called it “a questionable play on the hit on Randall,” and Rodgers confronted Elam on the field.
Cobb had just finished catching an 15-yard completion hat nearly converted a first down. Rodgers has said repeatedly that he tries not to put his receivers in harm’s way with his passes, and he clearly thought Elam could have hit Cobb in a way that wouldn’t have taken him out at the knees.
“I think a lot of us saw the hit on Dustin Keller,” Rodgers said. “I just felt like (Elam) had enough time to make a hit in the legal hitting zone.”
The severity of Cobb's knee injury wasn't clear after the game, although ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday night that Cobb would be "OK," according to a source.
After the game, the Ravens’ other starting safety, James Ihedigbo argued that the rules the NFL has instituted on hits to the head has made it difficult to find a place to hit offensive players.
“I don't know what Randall Cobb suffered, but I'm praying for him because it's unfortunate,” Ihedigbo told the Baltimore Sun. “[The NFL] wants us to hit low, we'll hit low, and guys will keep getting injured, God forbid.”
Apparently, Ihedigbo said the same thing to Rodgers.
“(Ihedigbo) came over and made actually a very knowledgeable point – which I appreciated a little intelligent banter back and forth – about some of the issues defensive players have to deal with with the target area,” Rodgers said. “I totally understand that and get that. I just felt like, from my vantage point, (Elam) had plenty of time to not take out a guy’s legs in that situation. I think he could have hit in the proper hitting zone, and that’s what I told him.”
Rodgers’ confrontation led to right guard T.J. Lang getting involved and drawing a 15-yard personal foul for pushing Elam. Mason Crosby missed a 44-yard field goal on the next play, although he would have only been kicking a 29-yarder without Lang’s penalty.
“I saw Aaron come up and he was talking to one of the DBs and the DB kind of started coming at him in a defensive mode and instinct kicked in,” Lang said. “I just put my hand on him and shoved him back a little bit. I wouldn't say it was a violent push at all, but the ref behind me threw the flag. I asked him who he had and he told me, me. I was a little confused by it. But that's what I'm going to do if somebody's coming at one of my teammates. You've got to protect him."
“I didn't even see the hit (on Cobb). I knew Aaron was upset about something, and whether he's right or wrong, I've got to protect him."
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