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Rams

Rams’ Clay Matthews aiming for a better jaw-dropping performance against Seahawks

The Rams are thrilled to have Clay Matthews back after the linebacker missed time with a broken jaw.
The Rams are thrilled to have Clay Matthews back after the linebacker missed time with a broken jaw.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Rams’ loss to the Seattle Seahawks in October came with a high price for Rams linebacker Clay Matthews.

The 11th-year pro suffered a broken jaw that sidelined him for three games.

Matthews, called for a roughing-the-passer penalty in that defeat, also was fined by the NFL a few weeks later when he posted a tweet critical of officials and the way they have called roughing-the-passer penalties the last two seasons.

Matthews said Thursday that he lost his appeal of the $12,500 fine because he was not remorseful enough.

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“Most people apologize and feel remorse when they’re in the wrong,” Matthews said. “And I didn’t feel like I was in the wrong.”

Matthews is looking forward to creating better memories Sunday when the Rams (7-5) play the NFC West-leading Seahawks (10-2) at the Coliseum. The Rams trail the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers (10-2) in the division. They are chasing the Minnesota Vikings (8-4) for an NFC wild-card spot.

Matthews, 33, signed with the Rams after 10 seasons with the Green Bay Packers. He got off to a fast start, and had five sacks going into the Oct. 3 game against the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.

Matthews had five tackles and a sack in the Rams’ 30-29 loss to the Seahawks.

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His roughing-the-passer penalty in the fourth quarter kept alive a Seahawks drive that ended with what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. The Rams were in position to win the game in the final 15 seconds, but Greg Zuerlein missed a 44-yard field-goal attempt.

Matthews was injured when Seahawks running back Chris Carson inadvertently kicked him in the face while Matthews was attempting to make a tackle. Matthews did not realize the extent of the injury until the next morning, when he felt pain while eating breakfast. He had X-rays that revealed a fracture that required surgery and his jaw to be wired.

Matthews sat out a loss the next week against the San Francisco 49ers and victories over the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals.

During his time away, he criticized officials and Al Riveron, the league’s senior vice-president of officiating.

Sports bettors in Las Vegas have been backing the Rams against the Seattle Seahawks. An opening line of Seattle -2.5 had dropped to pick-’em by late Wednesday.

“The story line for the 2019 season continues to be the refs inability to make the accurate and correct calls week in and week out,” Matthews tweeted. “Al Riveron continues to blindly side with his refs and the current status quo. Something must change! Zero accountability…. #throughthewire”

Matthews lost several sacks in 2018 because of what he regarded as overly quarterback-friendly calls by officials. That history, combined with the call against him in Seattle and what he observed on television while he was recovering, apparently set him off.

“Just kind of hit a head,” Matthews said Thursday, “especially when I was at home kind of watching these games with a broken jaw.”

Since returning Nov. 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Matthews has two sacks in four games, including one of the Rams’ six sacks in last week’s 34-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

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Matthews, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, has 91½ career sacks.

“He has consistently done a great job of understanding how to affect the quarterback,” coach Sean McVay said. “He’s seen so many different things too, that he’s able to anticipate and knows what to expect.”

Said defensive coordinator Wade Phillips: “He’s all we thought he would be, maybe a little better.”

As the Rams prepare for another game against Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Matthews said he would not shy from remaining aggressive, regardless of how roughing-the-passer penalties are interpreted.

“If that was the case I would have retired last year,” he quipped.

Instead, he will be teaming with lineman Aaron Donald, edge-rusher Dante Fowler and others on Sunday to slow Wilson.

“It’s still just try to get after the quarterback and be smart about it when you have opportunities,” he said.

Etc.

Tight end Gerald Everett (knee) did not practice and offensive lineman Rob Havenstein (knee) and defensive back Darious Williams (ankle) were limited. ... On Wednesday, when asked what precipitated running back Todd Gurley getting more carries as of late, McVay said, “Me not being an idiot?” On Thursday, Gurley was asked about McVay’s comment. “He said it, I didn’t,” Gurley said during a news conference, drawing laughter. “That’s all I got to say. I don’t have anything else to say.”


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