Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Breeland Speaks admitted he was worried about being called for a roughing the passer penalty on Tom Brady when he appeared to let the quarterback out of his grasp on a key play late in the fourth quarter Sunday.
Brady gave the Patriots the lead with a rare touchdown run with 5:25 remaining when he escaped a would-be sack by Speaks on third down and scored on a 4-yard scramble.
Speaks had his left arm around Brady's midsection behind the line of scrimmage, but the rookie said he wanted to avoid a penalty because he thought Brady already had thrown the ball.
"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."
Brady's touchdown run gave New England a 37-33 lead. The Patriots ultimately won 43-40 on Stephen Gostkowski's 28-yard field goal as time expired.
"I didn't see the replay," Brady said on his radio appearance on WEEI 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."
NFL officials threw 53 penalty flags for roughing the passer over the first six weeks of the season, compared with 38 in 2017 and 32 in 2016 over the same stretch of games.The NFL has emphasized this season that officials should penalize defenders for landing on quarterbacks with all or most of their body weight.
Speaks, a second-round draft selection, said he will risk being penalized in the future in order to prevent game-changing touchdowns.
"It's just the risk we've got to take now," said Speaks, who finished with six tackles and a sack Sunday. "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."