Breeland Speaks admitted he let Tom Brady run for a fourth-quarter touchdown because he was worried he would be called for roughing the passer.
Kansas City Chiefs rookie linebacker Breeland Speaks told NFL Network's Michael Giardi that the league's new rules aimed at protecting quarterbacks were on his mind when he let Tom Brady go on a touchdown run late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game.
Speaks, who had Brady wrapped up on the play, said he let the quarterback out of his grasp and thought that if the ball had been thrown, he would be penalized for roughing the passer. Instead, Brady escaped the sack on third down and scored on the four-yard scramble. The run gave the Patriots a 37-33 lead with 5:25 left in the game, which New England ultimately won 43-40 on Stephen Gostkowski's 28-yard field goal.
"I thought the ball was gone," Speaks said. "Because I thought the ball was gone, I didn't take him to the ground. It sucks, it sucks. You're supposed to finish plays like that."
Speaks's fear is a result of the league's new emphasis on the "body weight" rule, which penalizes defenders for landing on quarterbacks with all or most of their body weight. According to ESPN, the NFL has now thrown 53 flags for roughing the passer so far this season. In 2017 and 2016, officials only threw 38 and 32 such flags through the first six weeks of the season.
"I didn't see the replay," Brady said on WEEI radio Monday morning. "I saw one TV shot of it. I'm not sure. If he had a chance to tackle me, he probably should have tackled me."
Speaks's sentiments after the game were similar and said he wouldn't make that mistake again in the future.
"It's just the risk we've got to take now," Speaks said. "Whether we get the flag or not, whatever happens, you've just got to go ahead and push through it and go ahead and make that play."
Speaks finished the game with six tackles and a sack. The Chiefs are now 5–1 after suffering their first loss on Sunday and will play the Bengals (4–2) next week.