Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett found out the hard way when he sacked Tom Brady and got flagged for roughing the passer in the fourth quarter of Atlanta’s 21-15 loss at Tampa Bay on Sunday.
The questionable penalty that benefited Brady and the Buccaneers raised more concerns about interpretations of the rule.
It was the second straight week referee Jerome Boger made the critical call late in the game on a play that didn’t seem to warrant a flag.
Last week, it helped the Buffalo Bills on a drive that ended with Tyler Bass kicking a 21-yard field goal as time expired to beat the Baltimore Ravens 23-20.
This time, it allowed the Buccaneers to extend the final drive and eventually run out the clock.
Protecting quarterbacks has always been a point of emphasis for the NFL. That was magnified after Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was taken off the field
on a stretcher following a violent hit in a game against Cincinnati on Sept. 29.
Tagovailoa sustained a concussion when 6-foot-3, 340-pound Bengals defensive tackle Josh Tupou threw him backward, slamming his head into the turf.
Tupou wasn`t penalized for sacking Tagovailoa.
Neither Josh Allen nor Brady have been injured at the hits Boger known as roughing.