It doesn’t sound like NFL executive vice president of operations Troy Vincent believes the explanation Chiefs rookie linebacker Breeland Speaks gave for not finishing a sack on Tom Brady Sunday night.
During a third down play in the fourth quarter of Kansas City’s 43-40 loss to New England on Sunday, Speaks appeared to have Brady wrapped up for a sack when Brady escaped from his grasp and ran in for a touchdown to give New England a 37-33 lead. It looked as the play happened like Speaks didn’t follow all the way through on his attempt to bring Brady to the ground, which he explained after the game by saying he thought Brady had already thrown the ball and was concerned he’d get flagged for roughing the passer if he made a tackle.
“We’re in New England,” Speaks said, per ESPN. “Tom Brady’s going to get the call. We were already down there. I didn’t want to put us on the inch-yard line.”
Brady didn’t buy that argument, telling WEEI radio on Monday, “If he had the chance to tackle me, he probably should have tackled me.” Vincent doesn’t either, based on his comments to ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio Tuesday.
“I looked at the video and Tom Brady moved up and the player missed a tackle,” Vincent said, per ProFootballTalk.com. “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.”
The NFL’s new emphasis on protecting quarterbacks from too much contact has been a point of criticism throughout the season, from both players and coaches. There’s little question that it’s entered the mind of defensive players during games and may in some cases have changed their approach, but Vincent says that in spite of the penalties that have been called this season, defensive players still need to finish the play.
“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,” Vincent said, “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.”
Speaks, who was making the first start of his NFL career Sunday night due to injuries to Justin Houston and Tanoh Kpassagnon, finished the game with six tackles and a sack. Despite the one that got away, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was happy with how Speaks performed overall.
“He hustled, busted his tail the whole game and came up with a nice play,” Reid told the Chiefs Radio Network following the game. “And again, you’ll see him continue to get better. He’s a young kid, got his first start today and did some good things. There will be some things he can learn from as he goes forward.”