Although the Patriots have officially entered their offseason, there still remains one piece of controversy from the loss to the Ravens.
Late in the second quarter, the Patriots offense was marching downfield for a score right before halftime. On a play deep in Baltimore territory, Tom Brady was forced out of the pocket by oncoming pressure from his right.
Running left, he made the decision to tuck it and grab what yards he could with his legs. Indeed, something we don’t always expect Brady to do.
After gaining about three yards, incoming safety Ed Reed forced the veteran quarterback into a slide to protect himself.
However, the debate started when Tom Brady flipped his leg higher in the air than a quarterback would normally do during a protection slide. He nearly injured the other veteran in the process, as Reed jumped to avoid the metal cleat.
In an interview with Baltimore’s WJZ radio (via Yahoo! Sports), Ed Reed had the following to say on Brady’s slide.
We talked actually not too long ago; we talked on the phone. He actually reached out to me, texted me. I tried to text him back, but the message exploded after 12 seconds, so I had to call him … and he just apologized and whatnot. But I told him, ‘You know, it’s good, man.’
Reed seems to have forgiven him but apparently that wasn't enough for the league. After reviewing the case, the NFL fined Brady $10,000 for unnecessary roughness.
The league has made its decision, but was the play dirty?
After watching the slide again, It may appear questionable that the quarterback was fined for his actions. It was a case where Brady was obviously rushed into a spur-of-the-moment decision absent of any malicious intent—that and the fact that Brady is hardly used to sliding. It’s almost like sliding into second base after you haven’t done it in a year.
“Did I do that right, coach?”
Brady’s leg may have kicked up, but no major injury was caused.
While viewing the play in slow-motion, anyone could argue that Brady made the attempt to block Ed Reed’s path by raising his leg.
But the game isn't played in slow-motion. When viewing the game either on television or in person, fans catch the plays as they happen. With a bit of distance from the action, we can sometimes see the plays develop better than many of the players who are in the middle of the action.
An NFL game is played at such a blinding speed that players react by instinct, unable to consciously consider the best course of action at a given moment.
This is especially true on the defensive side of the ball. Sometimes a defensive player is fined for a hit, but that’s because the league is trying their best to promote player safety. It’s not like the defender, while trying to make the tackle, thinks to himself, “I should lower my head a little bit, in case that receiver turns that way after he catches it. That way I won’t hit his helmet.”
If the defender took the time to make that adjustment, we wouldn’t have what we know as the sport of football.
The same with an offensive player. In a breakdown of protection, Brady did what his instinct told him to do. In the moment, his leg just happened to be a little higher than what we expect of a slide.
He may have been fined for it, but whether it was a a dirty slide is really up to the person watching.
And besides, I’d be pretty freaked out if I had Ed Reed charging at me too.