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 the grasp before seemingly letting go of the Patriots quarterback. 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.
So, what happened?
Speaks said, via NFL Media’s Mike Giardi, he believed Brady had already thrown the ball. He claims 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. “It sucks.
“I gotta finish the play next time.”
Speaks believed 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. “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 on his pump fake. It has nothing to do with a new rule emphasis. It comes down to Speaks not tracking the football.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images