EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer does not understand the “scrutiny” surrounding linebacker Anthony Barr’s hit on Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, which resulted in the quarterback breaking his right collarbone.
Barr knocked Rodgers out of the game on the sixth play of the Packers’ second drive. The quarterback rolled to his right and threw a pass to Martellus Bennett, which the tight end dropped. Barr followed through on his tackle as the throw went incomplete.
Rodgers landed awkwardly on his right, throwing shoulder and laid on the field for several moments before shouting at Barr on his way to the sideline. He was treated briefly in the medical tent before heading to the locker room on a golf cart.
“We’re playing football,” Zimmer said Monday. “It’s unfortunate that he got hurt but I think everything was above board. We’re not a dirty football team. We’ll never be a dirty football team as long as I’m here. We’re going to play within the rules and sometimes things happen.”
NFL rules state the following about when a quarterback leaves the pocket, as Rodgers did on the play in question:
“When the passer goes outside the pocket area and either continues moving without the ball (without attempting to advance the ball as a runner) or throws while on the run, he loses the protection of the one-step rule … and the protection against a low hit … but he remains covered by all the other special protections afforded to a passer in the pocket, as well as the regular unnecessary roughness rules applicable to all position players. If the passer stops behind the line and clearly establishes a passing posture, he will then be covered by all of the special protections for passers.”
“We’re playing football. It’s unfortunate that he got hurt but I think everything was above board. We’re not a dirty football team. We’ll never be a dirty football team as long as I’m here. We’re going to play within the rules and sometimes things happen.”
Rodgers will undergo surgery on his broken clavicle, and, according to Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy, his season “potentially could be over.”
McCarthy said he “didn’t like the hit” from Barr on Rodgers and took a different stance than Zimmer.
“He’s out of the pocket, he’s clearly expecting to get hit, but to pin him to the ground like that, I think was an illegal act,” McCarthy said. “I didn’t like the hit. It was totally unnecessary in my opinion.”
Barr missed the second half of Sunday’s 23-10 Vikings win with a concussion. He was present in the Minnesota locker room on Monday but cannot speak to the media while in the league’s concussion protocol.