Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have caught a break during their 21-15 win over the Atlanta Falcons Sunday.
On Tampa Bay’s final drive of the game, Brady snapped the ball on a third-and-5 play and was sacked for a 10-yard loss.
However, officials threw a penalty flag on Falcons defensive lineman Grady Jarrett and called a roughing-the-passer penalty on him.
The replay showed Jarrett with a seemingly normal tackle of Brady.
The penalty gave the Buccaneers a fresh set of downs and, a few plays later, Brady led the Buccaneers to one more first down on a 9-yard pass to Mike Evans. The pitch and catch helped seal the game for Tampa Bay.
The penalty on Jarrett stirred a debate on social media. If Jarrett’s sack had been allowed, the Falcons might have gotten another opportunity to score. Atlanta had already outscored Tampa Bay 15-0 in the quarter prior to the penalty and was putting heat on Tampa Bay.
NFL referee Jerome Boger explained to pool reporter Greg Auman of The Athletic why the flag was thrown.
“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. “That is what I was making my decision based upon.”
Brady was asked about the play too.
“I don’t throw the flags,” he said, via ESPN.
Brady finished with 351 passing yards and a touchdown pass in the win. Tampa Bay took control of first place in the NFC South.