The NFL is supporting two controversial roughing the passer penalties from Week 5, league executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said Sunday during an appearance on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown.
The calls generated discussion all week about the erratic nature of the roughing the passer penalty and judgment calls made in these instances by referees Jerome Boger and Carl Cheffers. NFL executives often use the word "support" when asked about subjective calls. But given the opportunity to acknowledge that either call was wrong, or a case of poor judgment, Vincent demurred.
"We support those calls," he said. "Why? Because in Article 11 [of the rulebook], this is the one rule -- and we have a ton of rules -- where the judgment you give the referee, that white hat, is the latitude to call that play in real time. If that's what both Carl and Jerome in those two particular games, if that's what they saw, the rule allows us to say yes to support it."
Boger called a penalty against Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett for throwing Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady to the ground "unnecessarily," which is prohibited by the roughing the passer rule. Replays called that judgment into question, but Vincent said: "They're judgment calls."
Cheffers, meanwhile, flagged Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones for falling on Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr with his full body weight, also prohibited by the roughing the passer rule. Jones initially tried to brace himself to limit the force of his fall, but Carr fumbled and Jones used his right arm to recover the ball.
Neither Jarrett nor Jones were fined for the hits. Brady, meanwhile, was fined $11,139 for attempting to kick Jarrett after the play, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.