Watch: Patriots benefit from questionable roughing the passer call vs. Commanders


“That’s a sack. What else are you supposed to do?”

KJ Henry’s sack of Mac Jones early in the second half was negated due to a peculiar roughing the passer penalty. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Patriots probably got a little lucky on their opening drive of the second half.

Facing a third-and-10 from the Commanders’ 38-yard line, the Patriots’ promising possession looked like it was going to amount to nothing when Mac Jones was sacked by KJ Henry for a nine-yard loss. The ball also came out on the play, but it was unclear if Jones was actually down or not as the Patriots were knocked out of field goal range at the very least.

But it didn’t matter because the Patriots caught a major break. Henry was flagged for roughing the passer on the play, giving the Patriots 15 yards and a first down to keep their drive alive, allowing them to kick a field goal shortly later to go up, 17-10.

The call on Henry perplexed many though. The Commanders defensive end appeared to have good form on his sack of Jones and didn’t make any contact to the Patriots quarterback’s head or drive him into the ground. Of course, he didn’t hit Jones late either as he didn’t throw the ball.

Jonathan Vilma, who was the color commentator for Sunday’s game on Fox, showed immediate disapproval of the call.

“I don’t see the call,” Vilma said when watching the replay. “Mac Jones has the ball in his hands and he takes him down for a sack. I don’t get it.”

When play-by-play announcer Kenny Albert said that Jones might’ve been driven to the ground, Vilma shot down that notion.

“It can’t be. He had the ball in his hands,” Vilma said. “What do you want [Henry] to do? That’s why he can’t understand it either. I would understand [the call] if Mac Jones threw the ball away and then he took him down. But he has the ball in his hands. That’s a sack. What else are you supposed to do?”

NFL on Fox rules analyst Dean Blandino also seemed confused by the call as he tried to explain it.

“This is what the officials are being directed to call,” Blandino said on the broadcast. “They want the defenders to get off to the side. But like you guys are saying, this is just a tackle. This is just momentum. There’s nothing punishing. There’s no second act. I don’t really like it as a foul, but this is what the league is directing the officials to call.”

The call was universally panned by analysts and former players on social media. Even former Patriots safety Devin McCourty expressed questioning over the penalty.

“Hard to play defense in the nfl but let’s go Pats,” McCourty wrote in a social media post with two laughing emojis.