For the second time this season, the Patriots walked away losers due to questionable refereeing at the game’s final gun. Monday night’s showdown with the Panthers ended with the officials flagging linebacker Luke Kuechly for pass interference on Rob Gronkowski. The officials convened briefly, then overturned the call, ultimately ending the game.
When seen on replay, it was clear Gronkowski was held back from making a play on Tom Brady’s pass to the end zone. The ball was intercepted as a result. Referee Clete Blakeman gave no explanation following the announcement of no foul on the play. Blakeman and his crew proceeded to rush off the field.
According to Blakeman, Brady’s pass was uncatchable, thus leading to their determination. He defended the decision following New England’s 24-20 defeat.
“So it was determined at that point in time that when the primary contact occurred on the tight end that the ball, in essence, was coming in underthrown and in essence it was at that point intercepted at the front end of the end zone,” said Blakeman.
Bill Belichick deflected questions regarding the play in his postgame press conference, saying, “I saw what you saw.”
“When they threw the flag, that’s what I thought it was going to be [pass interference],” added Gronkowski.
Obviously the Patriots had their chances throughout the game to avoid such an ending. But it’s safe to assume that a tight end with a skill set such as Gronkowski’s, could have certainly at least made some sort of a play on the football if free from interference. For a game to end in such a fashion is inexcusable.
It’s understood that the referees were basing their decision off of what it says in the rulebook, but to offer up no clarification on their thought process in the heat of the moment in downright maddening. Therefore Patriots’ players and fans have every right to be upset considering the conclusion of Monday Night Football wasn’t exactly fair.