Rob Maaddi, The Associated Press
TAMPA, Fla. – Not touch!
Atlanta Falcons tackle Grady Jarrett found out the hard way how seriously some officials in the National Football League take quarterback protection when he tackled Tom Brady behind his line of scrimmage in a 21- 15 at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
This play, which occurred in the fourth quarter, earned Jarrett a roughing penalty on the quarter that benefited Brady and the Buccaneers. The incident also raised new reactions on the interpretation that must be made of this regulation.
It was the second weekend in a row that referee Jerome Boger made such a decision at critical moments in a game when the streak didn’t seem to justify it.
Last week, she helped the Buffalo Bills in a push that ended with a 21-yard field goal from Tyler Bass on the last play of the fourth quarter, giving the Bills a 23-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens. .
This time, it gave the Buccaneers the opportunity to extend their last offensive streak and possibly run out of time.
Quarterback protection has always been a focus for the NFL. That was amplified after Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa left the field on a stretcher following a heavy blow in a game against Cincinnati on Sept. 29.
Tagovailoa suffered a concussion when Bengals tackle Josh Tupou, a 6-foot-3, 340-pound tough, threw him backwards, banging his head on the ground.
Tupou was not penalized after his bag from Tagovailoa. Neither the Bills’ Josh Allen nor Brady was hurt on plays where Boger called roughing penalties on the quarterback.
“What I had was the defensive player grabbing the quarterback while it was still in the protective pocket and throwing it to the ground unnecessarily,” Boger told a group of journalists after the meeting.
“That’s what I based my decision on.”
The NFL rulebook quotes this: “Any physical action against a player who is in a position to make a pass (for example, before, during or after the pass) which, in the judgment of the official, does not is not warranted by the circumstances of the game will be declared a penalty.”
The rulebook adds this: “When there is doubt about a roughing penalty or a dangerous tactic against the quarterback, the official should always call a roughing penalty on the quarterback.”
Several analysts, including some former quarterbacks, disagreed with Boger’s decision.
“The league office needs to sort this out,” former head coach Tony Dungy said on NBC’s pregame show Sunday night.
“If you can’t tackle the quarterback, it will become impossible to play defense.”
On Twitter, Robert Griffin III, who played quarterback in the NFL between 2012 and 2020, felt that the Falcons had been wronged.
“Hitting the quarterback is not the equivalent of quarterback roughing even if it is Tom Brady.”
Despite the perception that Brady gets special treatment, the 45-year-old veteran quarterback ranks 41st in the NFL with a roughing penalty rate of .14 since 2009.
It was the first time this season that Brady was the recipient of a quarterback roughing penalty. Last year, there was only one called at his expense.
Jarrett was visibly upset at being penalized and refused to speak to reporters after the game. Falcons head coach Arthur Smith would not criticize the officials.
No one wants to see a player get tackled like the one that sent Tagovailoa to the hospital. But there’s a difference between protecting quarterbacks and punishing defensive players who play football.
The NFL’s dilemma is finding the right balance.