Questionable roughing call helps Tom Brady, Bucs to first TD vs. Eagles

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Tom Brady's hard enough to beat in the playoffs as is.

When he's getting help from officials? Good luck.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers started Sunday's wild-card game against the Philadelphia Eagles with a touchdown on their opening drive. They may not have gained a first down if not for a questionable roughing-the-passer penalty on Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett.

As Brady released an incomplete pass on Tampa Bay's second play from scrimmage, Barnett hit the Bucs quarterback.

It wasn't late. It wasn't high. It wasn't low. Barnett didn't land on Brady with his body weight. In fact, he did his best to soften the blow, then reached out to help Brady back up off his feet. Yet officials flagged Barnett for roughing the passer. Because ... Brady? They apparently deemed the hit to Brady's hip as too low.

Instead of facing third-and-10, the Bucs had first-and-10 at the Eagles' 43-yard line on their next play. Nine plays later, Giovani Bernard crossed the goal line for a 2-yard touchdown run to give the Bucs an early 7-0 lead. The Bucs eventually cruised to a 31-15 victory.

We'll never know if the Bucs would have scored without the penalty. But there's no doubt that it made the task considerably more manageable as Tampa Bay seized early control of the game.

Tom Brady led Tampa Bay to a touchdown on their opening drive thanks in part to a questionable penalty. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Tom Brady led Tampa Bay to a touchdown on their opening drive thanks in part to a questionable penalty. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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