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November 19, 2013

Thoughts on controversial ending to Panthers' win over Pats

PenaltyThe conversation this morning normally would be about Cam Newton's coming-of-age, game-winning drive on a national stage Monday in the Panthers' 24-20 win over New England.

Instead -- on sports talk shows, Twitter and apparently at the gate for US Airways' Boston flight out of Charlotte -- it's about the call/no-call on Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly on the final play of the game.

Watch the video: What do you think?

There's no disputing that Kuechly put a bear hug on Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski in the end zone, which is what prompted back judge Terrence Miles to throw the flag for pass interference on Kuechly.

But after referee Clete Blakeman conferred with two other officials, they ruled Tom Brady's pass was uncatchable and picked up the flag.

Blakeman didn't explain this to the ESPN audience or the Bank of America Stadium crowd at the time of his announcement, but did so later when meeting with me and another pool reporter.

"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 immediate at that point intercepted at the front end of the end zone," Blakeman told us.

"So there was a determination that, in essence, uncatchability, that the ball was intercepted at or about the same time the primary contact against the receiver occurred."

A few points:

--The ball was well underthrown. Brady didn't step into the throw and it floated short of Gronkowski, allowing safety Robert Lester to undercut Gronkowski and Kuechly and pick it off.

(Interestingly, the Patriots ran the same play earlier in the drive. Gronkowski beat Kuechly, and Brady made a much better throw to convert a fourth down.)

--But would Gronkowski have had a chance to make a play on the ball in the end zone if Kuechly weren't hugging him?

Probably. I don't think he would have caught it, but he would have been in the vicinity of the ball and not several yards away, which is where his and Kuechly's momentum carried them.

--Finally, I think the initial calls stands if the game's in New England. Right or wrong, I can't see that flag getting picked up in Foxborough.

But it was in Charlotte, and the Panthers came away with one of the most dramatic wins in their history.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on November 19, 2013 at 10:42 AM | Permalink


if kuechly just stops and stands there, it's no penalty, no controversy, and no effing way gronk gets anywhere near the ball. but he stumbled - in part because of the contact initiated by gronk - and grabbed onto him.

i don't know how i would feel about it unbiased. i definitely don't feel guilty about it at all, especially not after spygate. we're owed every controversial-close call against new england for eternity.

Posted by: charlottean | Nov 19, 2013 10:51:21 AM

To all panthers fans, as a long suffering but fanatical raiders fan, i cant help but invoke karma in the end zone last night, it wasnt a championship game, it wasnt snowing, but didnt Mr.Tom celebrate another bad call some years ago? How about the tuck rule? He didnt scream at the refs when he fumbled and cost the raiders a trip to the super bowl. The Panthers won, Pats, tuck it in and move on

Posted by: raiders fan | Nov 19, 2013 11:00:49 AM

The pass was so underthrown I think it should have been an intentional grounding call.

Posted by: ChickenWing | Nov 19, 2013 11:03:36 AM

Gronkowski should have tried harder for that ball. Earlier Gronk dragged a linebacker and two DB's to the goal line and scored a touchdown. You mean to tell me he couldn't do a bette job to get away from Luke? Whatever.....game over! Great game Panthers.

Posted by: Demi | Nov 19, 2013 11:06:17 AM

There sure isn't any bias from the Panthers' fans.

Posted by: wow | Nov 19, 2013 11:08:18 AM

How about the rest of the game where Carolina totally controled the action? No team ever gets a call like that at the end. Seriously.

Posted by: Brian | Nov 19, 2013 11:08:21 AM

if you are a patriots fan, don't you kinda feel like this is one you can let go? i mean 7-3 and 1st in the division isn't exactly a bad position to be in and it wasn't a playoff game.

you ALWAYS get those calls in playoff games that matter. so why worry about the regular season game that is relatively meaningless other than momentum?

Posted by: charlottean | Nov 19, 2013 11:14:20 AM

Luke was just congratulating him on a good game with a friendly hug - the clock was at 0:00. Great sportsmanship!

Posted by: Holla | Nov 19, 2013 11:17:21 AM

I love the Magic Gronk theory. A lumbering beast going full sprint towards the end zone seemingly has Percy Harvin ability in the minds of ESPN analysts where the momentum of a 250+ man will stop on a dime, change direction then lunge forward 4 yards and supposedly beat a CB that was running in the correct direction ahead of him all in a milli second after he recognizes the pass is going to be short.
Gronk is a beast of a player but at no point has he shown that he is agile. This is a moot point. Only one player deserves blame for that last play.... Tom Brady. He should man up and state that I threw the ball short and take responsibility for it.

Posted by: Rob K | Nov 19, 2013 11:20:38 AM

Tom Brady did man up and say it was a bad throw. Regardless, it probably shouldn't have been pass interference because of the bad throw, but you cannot mug a defender past 5 yards. It should have been holding.

Posted by: Rob K is stupid | Nov 19, 2013 11:25:27 AM

Great Smitty quote in USA Today!!


Posted by: IceUpSon | Nov 19, 2013 11:28:03 AM

I've seen that called so many times pass interference especially since the linebacker wasn't looking back toward the ball.I hate the Patriots but they were robbed of one more play and probably the win.

Posted by: Randy | Nov 19, 2013 11:28:17 AM

Great quote! Heres the video after the game of Smitty saying Ice up son! Ice up!

Posted by: GoPanthers | Nov 19, 2013 11:50:55 AM

ooops Great quote! Heres the video after the game of Smitty saying Ice up son! Ice up!


Posted by: GoPanthers | Nov 19, 2013 11:51:23 AM

There was no clear cut penalty under the rules, and the officials had to make a snap judgement based on their collective onfield observations and their knowledge of the rules. Basically Panthers won, case closed.

Posted by: bill | Nov 19, 2013 11:56:52 AM

Bottomline is they robably would have won my azz. If it had been the other way around the flag would have not been thrown at all,had that been Olsen. Had this been against Falcons no big deal.
Gronk.s momentum was carrying him the wrong direction and Lester had already moved to cut the pass off.

Posted by: 10-4!! | Nov 19, 2013 11:57:24 AM

Rob K
Holding was not a possible call. The ball was already throwwn negating any holding call. The only possible call was PI, which had to be a catchable pass.

Posted by: jrauhauser64 | Nov 19, 2013 11:57:52 AM

exactly the official explained it lastnight and because its redneck cousin of the NFL everyone has a problem with it. As i said other way around its ok nothing much said. Disgusting.

Posted by: 10-4!! | Nov 19, 2013 12:04:09 PM

I'm sorry wow the Panthers didn't control the rest of the game like you stated.How many times did they try and run on the right side and got STUFFED at the line and STUFFED when they tried to bounce it outside on the right?They succeeded on Newton escaping the pass rush and taking off running.As for the defense you hold your breath with the secondary just like back in the decade when Fox was the head coach.

Posted by: Randy | Nov 19, 2013 12:10:54 PM

The rules are very clear. Why are they not posted in the article? It was a correct call. I would be disappointed if the roles were reversed but move on. The smugness of the Patriots and their fans is sickening.

Posted by: B Man | Nov 19, 2013 12:27:52 PM

The shot to Charles Johnson wasn't called either . The same shot that knocked him out of the game and loosened up the D enough to get a couple of long drives.

Posted by: Aaron | Nov 19, 2013 12:32:23 PM

one play did not determine that game. one play never determines the game.
great game to watch! congratulations to the panther organization!!

Posted by: Eric | Nov 19, 2013 12:33:43 PM

Patriots fans are funny. How can you complain about being 7-3??? Try going 2-14. One supposedly bad call and everyone loses their minds

Posted by: el | Nov 19, 2013 12:34:55 PM

Exactly Aaron my next comment!

Posted by: 10-4!! | Nov 19, 2013 12:35:46 PM

Yea, no one's talking about the dirty shot to Johnson's leg because it's Panthers. Like always, Patriots blow everything up!

Posted by: Big Rob | Nov 19, 2013 12:40:39 PM

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