With just over two minutes remaining in the game and the Packers clinging to a slim one-point lead this past Sunday against the Falcons, A.J. Hawk lost it.
The Green Bay linebacker had a conniption on the field, an eruption of emotion directed at Atlanta center Joe Hawley.
Hawley had just dived at the side of Hawk’s leg roughly 10 yards downfield from the line of scrimmage, an exceedingly dirty play and a potentially devastating blow had Hawk not been wary enough to hop out of the way.
It wasn’t the first time Hawley tried to cut him down that game, a previous instance coming just minutes earlier. Hawk knew what could be coming.
The block by Hawley with a little over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter was perfectly legal, coming at the inside linebacker from straight-ahead with very little chance of injury.
It was a different situation six minutes later, however. Hawley dives at Hawk’s knees from an angle, his helmet clearly behind Hawk’s legs, visual proof that he did not come at the defender from the front.
If Hawk’s leg is planted in the ground, the knee would collapse, ligaments would likely be torn and his season effectively ended.
Hawk had every right to throw a fit and draw attention to something that’s not kosher and shouldn’t be tolerated in professional football.
“It could have been one of those plays that was my season,” Hawk told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after the game. “But I talked to (Hawley) afterward and he said it wasn’t intentional.”
The chop block by Hawley got Hawk breathing fire, as he explained after the game.
“I would equate it to one of those situations where something happens and you black out and start saying stuff and don’t hear what anybody else is saying. That was the case.
“I was still (conscious) enough to know I wasn’t going to do anything stupid. I wasn’t going to punch him, I wasn’t going to head butt him. I had enough sense to at least not do that.”
The question now is whether Hawk’s antics are enough to draw attention from the league offices of the NFL. Hawley wasn’t flagged by officials on Sunday but could be fined for actions later this week.