NFL Official Opens Up About That Controversial Tom Brady Roughing Call

by Suzanne Halliburton
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Maybe you heard about the NFL official who called a roughing penalty and wiped away a sack of Tom Brady. If not for the yellow flag, Atlanta would’ve had one more chance to beat Tampa Bay.

The penalty happened with about 3 minutes to go with Tampa Bay playing host to the Falcons at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs faced a third-and-five. Atlanta defensive lineman Grady Jarrett sacked Tom Brady for a 10-yard loss. Brady popped up and immediately asked for a flag. Penalty granted.

We’ll let you take a look at the penalty in question. Then stay for the official’s explanation.

As you can see, Jarrett grabbed Brady by the waist. They both tumbled to the turf, as Jarrett rolled over, then jumped up to celebrate the dramatic play. At the start of the fourth quarter, Tampa owned a 21-0 lead. With the apparent sack, the Falcons needed only a touchdown, plus the extra point for the victory.

Instead, referee Jerome Boger threw the flag. Tom Brady and the offense stayed on the field and ran out the clock for the 21-15 win to break the team’s two-game losing streak.

Officials waved off this Grady Jarrett sack of Tom Brady. (Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Official Defended His Decision to Wipe Away Tom Brady Sack

Boger talked to a pool reporter from the Pro Football Writers Association after the game. The reporter asked Boger to clarify why he called the 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty.

“What I had was the defender grabbed the quarterback while he was still in the pocket,” Boger said, “and unnecessarily throwing him to the ground. That is what I was making my decision based upon.” The reporter asked if officials now were on the look out to call the roughing penalty because of what happened with Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins QB still is in concussion protocol.

Boger said officials weren’t “necessarily” looking to call a quarterback takedown as roughing.

Reporters asked Tom Brady about the call after the game. The 45-year-old quarterback didn’t want to talk about the call. “I don’t throw the flags,” he told reporters.

Tampa Bay coach Todd Bowles said he thinks every quarterback would get such a call, not just Tom Brady.

“They are starting to crack down on some of the things, slinging backs. I don’t know,” Bowles said in post game. “Right now, the way they are calling (it), I think a lot of people would’ve gotten that call.”

Former NFL coach Tony Dungy also disagreed with the call, describing it as an overreaction to what happened with Tagovailoa.

Dungy tweeted: “The roughing the passer call on Atlanta’s Grady Jarrett Vs Bucs Tom Brady came at a key moment in 4th quarter. It was a terrible call. They have to protect all players, including the QBs. But Jarrett did nothing wrong.”

Robert Griffin III, the former starting quarterback for Washington who now works as an analyst for ESPN, tweeted several times about the Tom Brady sack that wasn’t. He first tweeted, all in caps “This is not roughing the passer.”

But there was more. “The Falcons got ROBBED. Hitting the QB hard does not equal Roughing the Passer even if it’s Tom Brady.”

And then, Griffin posted: “That ROUGHING THE PASSER call against the Falcons impacts the integrity of the game.”