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After falling behind 21-0 in the first three quarters, the Atlanta Falcons made a stirring 15-point comeback in the fourth to get within six points of the division-rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Then, with three minutes to go, the Falcons seemingly stopped the Bucs from getting the ball back when Grady Jarrett sacked Tom Brady on 3rd-and-5. However, NFL referee Jerome Boger made a horrible roughing-the-passer call that effectively ended the game. And after the game, his explanation might have been even worse.

NFL referee Jerome Boger gave a ridiculous non-answer about Tom Brady roughing the passer

(L-R) Falcons Grady Jarrett sacks Buccaneers' Tom Brady, NLF referee Jerome Boger
(L-R) Grady Jarrett sacks Tom Brady, Jerome Boger | Julio Aguilar/Getty Images; Michael Hickey/Getty Images

There is no guarantee that Marcus Mariota would have led the Falcons down the field and scored a touchdown in the final minutes of the Falcons-Buccaneers game. But on the plus side of the two-minute warning, with a timeout, and on a 15-point roll already in the quarter, it would have been exciting to see him try.

Unfortunately, referee Jerome Boger took that chance away from the Falcons and all of us when he called one of the weakest roughing-the-passer penalties in recent memory.

Tom Brady had the ball (he hadn’t thrown it yet), Grady Jarrett grabbed him around the waist (not too high or too low), and rolled the QB down to the ground (didn’t slam him in an unnatural way). Yet, somehow, Boger saw that as a penalty and threw the flag.

Following the awful call, Brady and the Buccaneers got a first down three plays later and were able to kneel the ball for the win.

After the game, the 67-year-old Boger — who’s been an NFL official since 2004 and a head referee since 2006 — had to answer for his dreadful call. When asked by the pool reporter, Greg Auman of The Athletic, why it was roughing the passer, Boger answered:

What I had was the defender grabbed the quarterback while he was still in the pocket, and unnecessarily throwing him to the ground. That is what I was making my decision based upon.

Jerome Boger on his Tom Brady roughing the passer

That is an absurd non-answer that doesn’t hold water for anyone who saw the play.

Auman even gave Boger an out, asking him if there is an increased emphasis on calling this type of play following the Tua Tagovaioa concussions in previous weeks. However, Boger answered, “No, not necessarily.”

In addition to Boger’s bad call costing the Falcons the game, it is annoying NFL fans for two other reasons. For one, Boger made another questionable call last week, as well. In the Buffalo Bills vs. Baltimore Ravens game, his crew called a roughing-the-passer on superstar QB Josh Allen that helped the Bills win the game.


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The second issue is that, for years, fans have argued that Tom Brady gets more preferential treatment than any superstar QB in the league. It’s an accusation that not even Brady can deny too strenuously.

This bad call by Boger just adds more fuel to that fire.

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