Getty Images

The Falcons' efforts to come back against the Buccaneers on Sunday were thwarted in part by a controversial third-down roughing-the-passer penalty against Tom Brady. Fans and analysts across the NFL had no trouble calling the flag unnecessary, seeing as Falcons defensive lineman Grady Jarrett delivered a textbook takedown of the star quarterback, whose head made no contact with either Jarrett or the field in the process. But referee Jerome Boger told the media after Sunday's game that the only thing unnecessary about the situation was Jarrett's way of taking Brady to the ground.

"What I had," Boger said when asked why the tackle deserved a penalty, "was the defender grabbed the quarterback while he was still in the pocket, and unnecessarily [threw] him to the ground. That is what I was [basing] my decision ... upon."

Asked whether his officiating crew was especially critical of those kinds of tackles in light of the Dolphins' Tua Tagovailoa recently suffering head and neck injuries on a sack in which he was swung down, Boger downplayed the possibility: "No, not necessarily."

Jarrett's sack, in motion, had similarities to the hit that hurt Tagovailoa, but there was a key difference: Brady's head, again, never made any contact with either the defender hitting him, or the ground into which he was swung. Jarrett also avoided going high or low on the hit, embracing Brady's midsection for the tackle, then flinging him toward the grass. Officials only flagged the hit after Brady, visibly frustrated by the sack, began complaining about its legality.

The roughing-the-passer penalty ended up extending the Bucs' fourth-quarter drive, despite the would-be sack threatening to get the ball back in the Falcons' hands, with Atlanta down six, and about three minutes left on the clock. Tampa Bay went on to win 21-15 and remain atop the NFC South.