Kansas City Chiefs rookie outside linebacker Breeland Speaks had New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady nearly wrapped up by the goal line on a third-and-goal play late in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s game.
Brady pump-faked, and Speaks appeared to hold up from moving forward with the full tackle, which would have been for a key sack.
Here's the Speaks play. You can clearly see the hesitation he has just after the pump fake. He pulls up just a bit coming off of the block and doesn't lay a full hit into him. pic.twitter.com/ncembxyMnL— Craig Stout (@barleyhop) October 16, 2018
There was a defensive holding called on the play (the Patriots declined), which would have negated the sack anyway, but asked after the game, Speaks said he held up because he was afraid of being called for a roughing-the-passer penalty.
#Chiefs LB Breeland Speaks said he believed Tom Brady had already thrown the ball on his TD run and was fearful of the new rules protecting the passer. “it was definitely on my mind. It sucks.” Will he alter his approach going forward? “Yes. I gotta finish the play next time.”— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) October 15, 2018
Breeland Speaks said he thought the ball was out on Tom Brady's touchdown run, and that a penalty was on his mind in letting up. "Especially in New England. We're in New England. Tom's going to get the call."— Sam Mellinger (@mellinger) October 15, 2018
We have seen referees calling any quarterback-related penalties especially tight throughout the 2018 season, so the reaction made sense.
But NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent doesn’t buy it, according to ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio.
VINCENT: “I looked at the video and Tom Brady moved up and the player missed a tackle. He missed an opportunity to make a sack. We have seen Tom step up thousands and thousands of times. In that particular situation, he stepped up, then he wound up running in the end zone. But that is one thing we always want to remove from a player’s mind is doubt and we think that we continue to educate, showing players what their peers are doing to make plays, but in that situation its something we have seen Tom do year in and year out, step up in the pocket, avoid a sack and wind up running into the end zone.”
I’ve only gotten to know Speaks a little bit this year, but my gut tells me he would admit it if he was just flat-out beat by Brady on the play. The potential for a penalty had to be going through his mind, because how could it not?
In my opinion, the rookie wanted to be extra careful not to spoil such a big game on a silly penalty in his first career start. Speaks later told old friend Terez Paylor, now of Yahoo! Sports, that he should have finished the play.
The Patriots went on to win the game, 43-40, and Speaks learned a valuable lesson.
Do you think Breeland Speaks was considering the new NFL rules when he held up on the play?
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