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Tom Brady took hit against Jaguars that probably should've been called under new roughing the passer rule

Alex Reimer
September 17, 2018 - 2:44 pm

This season, the NFL has placed an emphasis on flagging defensive players who land on opposing quarterbacks with their full body weight. But it seems like the edict is being selectively enforced. Tom Brady took a hit in Sunday’s 31-20 loss to the Jaguars that appeared to fall under the new criteria, but no whistles were blown.

No sane individual wants there to be more flags during the course of an NFL game. But the only thing more problematic than an unnecessary rule is one that’s called randomly. As ESPN’s Mike Reiss points out, Jacksonville defensive end Yannick Ngakoue drove Brady to the ground after hitting him in the first half.

The hit was nearly identical to Packers linebacker Clay Matthews’ fourth quarter sack of Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, which resulted in a “roughing the passer” penalty. That allowed Cousins to find Adam Thielen in the end zone for the game-tying touchdown, sending the contest into overtime.

In a logical world, neither of those tackles would be penalties. It’s seemingly impossible for a defender to hit a quarterback without throwing his bodyweight onto him. That’s how players are taught to finish most tackles. 

But yet, the NFL called 15 roughing the passing penalties in Week 1, five of which stemmed from the body weigh mandate. Surprisingly, referee Tony Corrente said Matthews wasn’t penalized for landing on Cousins, explaining that Matthews “lifted” Cousins and “drove” him to the ground.


In one game Sunday, it was perfectly legal to hit a quarterback and drive him to the ground. In another, it was deemed over the line. 

Expect these apparent inconsistencies to become a big storyline as the season progresses. Joy.