Many NFL fans were steamed over what they felt was a half-baked call that helped Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seal a win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
The play in question took place late in the fourth quarter as Tampa Bay, leading 21-15, was facing a 3rd-and-5 situation. Quarterback Brady was sacked by Atlanta defensive lineman Grady Jarrett, which would have meant a fourth-down punt that would give the Falcons an opportunity to win the game.
But the fluttering of a flag ended any hopes Atlanta had of getting the ball back.
Jarrett was called for roughing the passer for the way he tossed the 45-year-old Brady, leaving NFL observers at home clicking their outrage on Twitter.
Some suggested the call was either the “worst of the season” or the “worst roughing the passer call in NFL history.”
Tom Brady roughing the passer call is the worst of the season
— Cris Carter (@criscarter80) October 9, 2022
The Falcons got ROBBED. Hitting the QB hard does not equal Roughing the Passer even if it’s Tom Brady.
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) October 9, 2022
I’ve seen a lot of #NFL football in my life, but someone is going to have to explain this roughing the passer call in the @AtlantaFalcons / @Buccaneers game. I’m not sure I’ve seen anything quite like this pic.twitter.com/YvmekNYxG2
— Scott Pioli (@scottpioli51) October 9, 2022
This very well might be the worst roughing the passer call in NFL history pic.twitter.com/DBejlYpd9N
— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) October 9, 2022
That ROUGHING THE PASSER call against the Falcons impacts the integrity of the game.
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) October 9, 2022
This is nonsense. What are we doing? pic.twitter.com/DgdvX3HsqQ
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) October 9, 2022
Many pointed to a play in the Sunday night game between Baltimore and Cincinnati in which Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was tossed in a very similar way to Brady but roughing was not called.
We all saw what happens if this is Tom Brady and not Lamar Jackson. Where’s the consistency @NFLOfficiating ?! (This wasn’t flagged just like the falcons shouldn’t have been flagged earlier) #SNFonNBC #CINvsBAL pic.twitter.com/zqKXihcDEE
— Deezus (@Skelify) October 10, 2022
Brady got thrown down less violently than Lamar just did and the refs didn’t even think of throwing a flag.
— MileHighGreco (@MileHighGreco) October 10, 2022
After the Bucs-Falcons game, referee Jerome Boger fielded the question of whether this was protecting Brady or perhaps an overreaction to the recent concussion suffered by Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa when he was sacked in a somewhat similar fashion.
“What I had was the defender grabbed the quarterback while he was still in the pocket, and unnecessarily throwing him to the ground,” Boger said, according to WXIA-TV in Atlanta. “That is what I was making my decision based upon.”
Boger was asked if the call was linked to Tagovailoa’s injury.
“No, not necessarily,” he said.
Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles did not think the call was a gift to Brady as much as a reaction to the hit on Tagovailoa.
“I saw that one being called. I saw it against Tua. I saw it in the London game this morning,” Bowles said. “I think they are starting to crack down on some of the things like slinging quarterbacks. Right now, the way they are calling it, I think a lot of people would have gotten that call.”
“League safety is at an all-time high, as it should be,” he said. “Anything close, which we understand going into the ball game, they’re going to call it.”
Atlanta defensive back Casey Hayward Jr. had a different perspective.
“From my vantage point it looked like it was a bad call, but that’s why you put the refs out there to make these calls,” said. “They pay these guys to make those calls. It looked bad on my standpoint, but I was in the back end.”
The Falcons Twitter account made the team’s feelings clear when it set an image of the play as its header.
— Miles Garrett (@MilesGarrettTV) October 9, 2022
Brady evaded the issue after the game, saying, “I don’t throw flags.”
Jarrett did not comment, but WXIA said he was slamming objects in frustration on his way to the locker room.
Writing on CBS News, Michael Hurley said, “Quarterbacks get special treatment in the NFL. Star quarterbacks get even more special treatment. The greatest quarterback of all time, even more so. We all understand the deal.”
“Even with that being established … the roughing the passer penalty that helped seal a win for Tom Brady and the Buccaneers on Sunday afternoon in Tampa was egregious, going a bit above and beyond the expected level of overprotection on a star quarterback,” he wrote.
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