One of the strangest moments of the New England Patriots’ 43-40 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night came on Tom Brady’s touchdown scramble.
Chiefs outside linebacker Breeland Speaks had Brady in his grasp before seemingly letting go of the Patriots quarterback. Watching the play live, it looks like Speaks simply whiffs on Brady.
But there’s a slow-mo version here that makes it look like Speaks holds up on tackling Brady.
So, what happened?
Speaks said he believed Brady had already thrown the ball, via NFL Media’s Mike Giardi, He claimed he let go for fear he would be flagged for a late hit or roughing the passer under the NFL’s new rule emphasis.
“It was definitely on my mind,” Speaks said of the new rule. “It sucks. I gotta finish the play next time.”
Furthermore, Speaks thought he would have been penalized if he finished the hit if Brady had already let go of the ball — since the game was played at Gillette Stadium.
“Especially in New England,” Speaks said, via the KC Star’s Sam Mellinger. “We’re in New England. Tom’s going to get the call.”
Speaks said his position coach, Mike Smith, understood his plight.
?He even said, ?You thought he threw the ball, huh??? Speaks said, via Yahoo! Sports.
But that’s kind of the point. Speaks would have been rightfully penalized if he tackled a quarterback after throwing the ball. That’s not a new rule or emphasis. A late hit has always been a late hit.
But Brady hadn’t thrown the ball. And for fear of a penalty or not, it’s Speaks’ fault he didn’t know Brady held onto the ball after his pump fake. It has nothing to do with a new rule emphasis. It comes down to Speaks not tracking the football.
Brady’s touchdown run, which came on third-and-goal, put the Patriots ahead 37-33 with 5:25 left in the game.
The Chiefs committed a holding penalty in the end zone on the TD, so even if Speaks had sacked Brady, New England would have had a first down at the 1-yard line.
The Patriots won on a last-second Stephen Gostkowski field goal following another field goal and a Chiefs touchdown.