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What players, coaches had to say about Grady Jarrett's roughing the passer penalty in loss to Buccaneers

Jarrett's sack had the potential to be a game-altering moment for the Falcons. lnstead, the penalty that followed virtually sealed a win for the Bucs. 

TAMPA, Fla. -- The final moments of the Falcons loss to Tampa Bay had the makings of a major comeback. After a few three-and-outs by Tampa Bay's offense and a couple productive offensive drives for the Falcons, Atlanta was knocking on the door of the six-point Tampa lead.

With about three minutes to go in the game, Grady Jarrett sacked Tom Brady for a loss of 10 yards on third down. The Falcons sideline was exuberant. The Buccaneers would be forced to punt the ball, and Atlanta would get one more shot to -- perhaps -- win the game.


That's not what happened, though. After the sack, a flag was thrown and Jarrett was penalized for roughing the passer. Instead of a 10-yard loss and Tampa Bay being forced to punt, Brady and the Buccaneers were given new life, 15 yards and a first down. Two plays later, and Brady found Mike Evans for a nine-yard pick up that ultimately sealed the 21-15 win for Tampa Bay.

Twitter exploded with frustrations regarding the call on Jarrett. No one could deny it was game-altering. Though no one could know what would have happened if the sack would have remained a clean sack, no one can deny the call's importance in a game that was ultimately decided by one possession.

After the game, Grady Jarrett declined an interview with media.

During his postgame press conference, Arthur Smith would not comment about the play directly, citing that he would "not get into that" because he hadn't "seen the film," nor had he spoken to the officials about the call.

Pressed about it, Smith stated three times that he needed to see what he could do to "coach the situation better."

While this was happening on the Falcons side of Raymond James Stadium, a PFWA pool reporter went to speak with referee Jerome Boger about the call.

Asked for clarification, Boger was quoted saying: "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."

In the locker room, a few players who did speak to the media about the call described the moment as "frustrating," particularly because the offense felt as though it was finally clicking.

"It's crazy because it was just a regular sack. It wasn't anything extra on Grady's part, but I guess the refs saw it the other way," Caleb Huntley said. "Had we gotten the ball, shoot, we probably wouldn't be sitting here sad and mad about the outcome of this game."

Huntley spoke about the shift in momentum the Falcons had started to feel after an exceptionally slow start offensively.

To begin the fourth quarter, Avery Williams ran the ball in for an eight-yard touchdown run. It was the first of the day for the Falcons. Two drives later, the Falcons were back in the end zone, with Marcus Mariota finding Olamide Zaccheaus for a 19-yard touchdown before connecting with KhaDarel Hodge for the two-point conversion to bring the score to 21-15.

"We kind of had our momentum shifting in a different way," Huntley said. "(We) had (Olamide Zaccheaus) and Avery scoring. We knew if we got the ball back we would have continued doing what we had done (when we did) the job before."

From the defensive perspective, A.J. Terrell -- who was called for a hold on third down that kept Tampa Bay alive in that same, final drive -- said simply: "We can't control the calls."

His cornerback counterpart, Casey Hayward, said that while he may not agree with the call, his perspective is that the Falcons didn't have to be in that position in the first place.

"It's frustrating," Hayward said, "but at the end of the day we have to put ourselves in a better situation to go out there and win those games without those calls. We've gotta put ourselves in better situations to start. We started too slow."

Hayward said that it was on everyone.

"We have to start fast on all accords: Offense, defense and special teams, to try not to put ourselves down 21," he said.

Hayward continued by saying that even if the defense did come up with the stop and Jarrett is not called for roughing the passer, there is still a lot that needs to happen for the Falcons to actually win the game.

Like the veteran cornerback mentioned, the game wasn't truly decided by this one call. The Falcons had chance after chance to get back in the game. It was just that this chance looked the most promising.

And in the moment, as Jarrett dropped Brady for a significant loss on third down, the defense -- and the Falcons team as a whole ---hoped and believed that they (at least) kept themselves not only in the game, but in the position to win it.

That is, until the flag flew in.

"Obviously, even if we got the stop we were going to have to go down and score," Hayward said. "But we thought we put ourselves in a chance to at least do that."

Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during Week 5.


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