TAMPA — Even in defeat, Tom Brady hit another milestone, just as he hit his boiling point.
The 44-year-old was whistled for the first unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of his 22-season career with 10:28 to play in the first half of the 30-27 division playoff loss to the Rams on Sunday. NBC cameras captured Brady — brandishing a bloody lower lip after taking a hit from Rams linebacker Von Miller — mouthing off at referee Shawn Hochuli.
Brady declined to address the exchange after the game. “(Hochuli) would probably have to (comment),” he said. “I’ll get fined if I say something.”
Hochuli told a pool reporter that Brady “got in my face in an aggressive manner and used abusive language. As for the hit, we did not think that it rose to the level of roughing the passer.”
The argument capped a convergence of flags and frustration at the game’s outset.
Veteran defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh got whistled for taunting Matthew Stafford after the Rams quarterback appeared to kick him when Suh took Stafford to the ground. Then, linebacker Lavonte David was flagged for slamming his helmet to the turf following Stafford’s 70-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Cooper Kupp on a third-and-20 blown coverage early in the second period.
“Frustration on our part. Just giving up a play like that, long down-and-distance,” David said.
“In order to win football games in this manner, we can’t beat ourselves. It was a situation where we beat ourselves, and I was just real mad at myself — not mad at myself, but mad about the situation. Definitely a lot of guys in the locker room look up to me, so that was something I shouldn’t have done. But at the same time, I feel like that was something that was needed.”
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