Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and opposing Arizona Cardinals player DJ Humphries got into a fracas in the playoff clash between the sides, including accusations of an attempted “choke”. What happened and what could the NFL punishment look like?
In the final match of the Wild Card round in the playoffs, the Cardinals travelled to SoFi Stadium to meet the Rams for the right to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It was a comfortable 34-11 victory for the home side in the end, who were leading 21-0 at half-time.
O’Dell Beckham Jr chipped in with the first playoff touchdown of his career, recording four catches for 54 yards on home soil.
However, the match was overshadowed by an incident involving Aaron Donald and DJ Humphries. So what happened and what could the NFL do about it?
Aaron Donald ‘choke’ accusation
The incident came in the third quarter of the game at the venue that will host Super Bowl LVI on February 13th.
Donald and Humphries got into an exchange after Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray found wide receiver Christian Kirk with a 23-yard pass.
In a melee featuring players from both sides, Donald appears to reach towards Humphries’ throat before clawing his left glove across his face before the players are separated.
Watch the footage here.
Donald wasn’t ejected from the game for the incident, with officials punishing him for “unnecessary roughness”.
The incident also helped the Cardinals to finally get on the scoreboard via a two-yard TD by James Conner.
What could the NFL do about it?
Donald has been caught up in a similar controversy already this season. In Week 12 of the regular season, he grabbed Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Lucas Patrick around the neck.
The NFL took a very dim view of that, fining him $10,300.
Meanwhile, following the melee, some players could be in trouble if they are deemed to have aimed a punch in Humphries’ direction.
The rulebook – Section 3, Article 1 – specifically states there shall be “no unsportsmanlike conduct” on the field of play.
That includes: “Throwing a punch, or a forearm, or kicking an opponent, even though no contact is made.”
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