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The refs giving Tom Brady a phantom roughing the passer call is the worst call of the week

Atlanta Falcons irate after questionable roughing the passer penalty

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

NFL fans are quite familiar with the parlor game “What is a catch?” We see that game play out every week during the NFL season.

Fans are also growing familiar with the latest spinoff, titled “What is roughing the passer?”

The latest version of that game played out late in the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons. Thanks to a touchdown pass from Marcus Mariota to Olamide Zaccheaus, and the ensuing two-point conversion, the Falcons cut the Buccaneer’s lead down to 21-15 with just under five minutes remaining.

Then their defense faced a critical third down near midfield on Tampa Bay’s ensuing possession. The defense had a chance to force a punt and give Mariota and the offense one final crack at the win.

It looked like they delivered, as Grady Jarrett broke through the line and got to Tom Brady for what appeared to be a critical sack.

Then, the flag fell:

As you can hear, in the booth FOX Sports analyst Daryl Johnson questioned the call, saying that it was “not in the spirit of the rule.”

That sentiment was quickly spreading on Twitter:

The reaction from Falcons head coach Arthur Smith speaks for itself:

According to the NFL’s Roughing the Passer rules, it is stated that “When tackling a passer who is in a defenseless posture (e.g., during or just after throwing a pass), a defensive player must not unnecessarily or violently throw him down or land on top of him with all or most of the defender’s weight.” While that is likely the portion of the rule that the officials pointed to in this case, it does not seem at all that Jarrett “unnecessarily or violently” throws Brady down on this play. It happens in the course of an ordinary sack, with Jarrett chasing the quarterback down from behind.

Indeed, that is the portion of the rulebook that Jerome Boger pointed to when questioned about the call after the game:

Instead of the Buccaneers facing a potential punt, they were able to run out the clock.

Leaving fans wondering what they had just seen with their own eyes: