Pats react to “Brady Rule”
|09.16.09 at 8:55 pm ET|
FOXBOROUGH — In a short week, everything gets compacted. With the Jets fast approaching on Sunday, the Patriots are doing everything they can to put Monday night behind them, including two roughing the passer calls that have again raised questions about what a defender can and can’t do to a quarterback.
Both calls — one on nose tackle Vince Wilfork in the third quarter, the other on linebacker Adalius Thomas in the fourth quarter — came on crucial drives for Buffalo, and each penalty kept alive drives that the Pats’ defense had initially stalled. The first penalty was directly a result of the new “Brady Rule,” a newly-minted regulation aimed at protecting quarterbacks by limiting the space in which they can be tackled, while the second was a direct result of new rules designed by the league to help protect the quarterback.
According to the NFL rules, “No defensive player who has an unrestricted path to the quarterback may hit him flagrantly in the area of the knee(s) or below when approaching in any direction.” While the rule makes sense on paper, on the field it becomes a gray area that falls into the category of a referee’s discretion.
In the Wilfork hit on Trent Edwards, it’s clear Wilfork’s helmet is contacting Edwards on his thighs, with his arms wrapped around the back of Edwards’ knees. Later in the game, Thomas was flagged for roughing the passer when he threw Edwards to the ground after the whistle had blown the play dead.
Thomas’ play and ensuing penalty harkens back to Super Bowl XLII, when Eli Manning squirmed free of New England defenders and found David Tyree on the game-winning drive. Can Thomas, knowing the situation of the game, really be blamed for making sure Edwards was on the ground and unable to throw a pass instead of leaving him on his feet?
“How many times have you seen Ben Roethlisberger get out of that?” asked Thomas, referring to his penalty.
Thomas makes an interesting point. Where is the line drawn? Do you take a player to the ground, or just wrap him up until you hear the whistle?
“I don’t think there is anything differently I could tell Vince [Wilfork] in the situation he was in,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “It’s hard when you’re going after the quarterback because if you don’t get him on the ground — as we found out in the Super Bowl — and they throw it, you’ve got to defend it.”
More interesting is how players are reacting to the new rule and the subsequent calls being made.
“All you care about is getting the man down,” said Patriots defensive lineman Mike Wright. “I’m aware of [the rule], but you’re not thinking about it when you come around the corner.”
Defensive tackle Jarvis Green echoes Wright’s sentiment.
“You have to play football,” said Green. “We know the rules, and we have to adjust to them like everyone else.”
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