FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The NFL’s roughing the passer rule struck again Sunday. Only this time, it happened because of a hit a player didn’t make.
On a third-and-goal on the Kansas City Chiefs’ 4-yard line during the fourth quarter of the New England Patriots’ thrilling 43-40 win, Chiefs outside linebacker Breeland Speaks failed to follow through on a near-sack of Tom Brady because he said he was scared to hit Brady after the ball was out, which would have resulted in a penalty.
That hesitation allowed Brady to slip through Speaks’ grasp and dive 4 yards for a touchdown, capping a seven-play, 75-yard drive that gave the Patriots a 37-33 lead with a little over five minutes left in the contest.
“I thought he threw the ball,” Speaks told Yahoo Sports. “I thought it was gone.”
Even though there was a defensive holding penalty on the play that would have negated the sack — making a Patriots touchdown a high likelihood — Speaks was caught on camera with his head bowed afterward.
“You’ve got to get him down,” Speaks told Yahoo Sports, when asked what he was thinking at that moment on the bench. “Bree, regardless, you’ve just got to take the chance, play football.”
Speaks said his position coach, Mike Smith, wasn’t mad at him when he got to the sideline.
“He even said, ‘You thought he threw the ball, huh?’” Speaks said.
In retrospect, Speaks said he should have finished the play. “It sucks,” Speaks said. “It sucks.”
Speaks is confident he’ll have an opportunity to redeem himself against the Patriots (4-2), perhaps in the playoffs.
“It’s a bittersweet, moral victory for us,” Speaks said. “We know what we’ve got to work on, we know we’ve got to stop the run. But I feel like we’re definitely going to see them again.”
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