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November 20, 2013

What science says about the final Carolina-New England play

You’ve seen the play, and you’ve heard takes from the Patriots, Panthers and the officials.

Now, you have science.

Wednesday’s “Sports Science” segment on ESPN looked at the final play from Monday night’s game—a controversial no-call that capped a 24-20 Panthers victory. (You can watch the clip here.)

The segment took into account how quickly Rob Gronkowski was running, when he stopped, when Luke Kuechly made contact and how Gronkowski’s reach could have affected Robert Lester’s interception.

Sports Science ultimately rules that while Gronkowski would have been unlikely to get himself in better position than Lester, it does not rule out the tight end potentially making a play on the ball or the safety.

Meanwhile, in New England today, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had only this to say about the play.


--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on November 20, 2013 at 02:58 PM | Permalink


No, Tom, it doesn't. I know what does count though... 7-3. Panther nation!

Posted by: Mark | Nov 20, 2013 3:02:28 PM

and if only the Titanic had turned...

Posted by: Scoobie | Nov 20, 2013 3:19:56 PM

The sports science piece has some serious fantasy to it. I especially like how they determine Gronkowski's ability to get back to the ball as though Kuechly hadn't been anywhere near the play. Even had there been no illegal contact, Kuechly would have still been between the ball and Gronk. It's not like Kuechly would have magically been transported away from the play entirely.
That, and they use the first instant any contact was made, rather than when the contact went from legal to illegal.

Posted by: Swizzlesticks | Nov 20, 2013 3:32:05 PM

It was a bad call, the game is over, the Panthers won, it ain't gonna change, not now, not ever, stick a fork in it, it's DONE !!!!

Posted by: Doc | Nov 20, 2013 3:39:23 PM

So basically, he "might" have been able try to stop Lester from intercepting it. Resulting in an incomplete catch and game over. Great work boys, great work.


Posted by: Mike W | Nov 20, 2013 3:47:35 PM

Stop talking about it already....

Posted by: Bill Arey | Nov 20, 2013 4:08:59 PM

The thing that really irks me about this is at the end of the segment where the "science guy" say he agrees with Tom Brady, describing the call "complete bull(bleep)". Way to keep it professional espn...

Posted by: pete | Nov 20, 2013 4:10:57 PM

Enough already! It is unfortunate but the Patriots once again prove who they really are, "Sore Losers" much like when Belachek lost a Super Bowl and acted totally unsportsmanlike or the cheating scandal, how about the leg whip in that game which should have resulted from the NFL in game suspension and the player who would not let go of Smiity's leg being ejected. The Patriots got as they deserved. It was not pretty but a W is a W!

Posted by: Mark D | Nov 20, 2013 4:18:44 PM

Bad call? Who cares. We all get them. Move on.
Rich O

Posted by: Rich O | Nov 20, 2013 4:21:17 PM

Please move on.

Posted by: Keith Wilson | Nov 20, 2013 4:24:00 PM

As a fan of perennial losers in both basketball and football, I have no sympathy. People act like this is the first time the NFL screwed up. Does anyone remember the first game after Katrina when we had to play the Saints, the new "America's Team"? We had the game won, but that was bad for business. Of course, no one cared about that since it was the lowly Panthers getting stiffed. We've been getting stiffed ever since. The NFL is a business, and it will do WHATEVER it needs to make more money. Plain and Simple

Posted by: QCBob | Nov 20, 2013 4:26:48 PM

I was going to say almost word for word what "Scoobie" said. So, now, how do we get that info to ESPN and the whole football world so that this can be brought to a halt and get on with the rest of the season?

Posted by: Tom Haines | Nov 20, 2013 4:28:26 PM

While they were "talking science" they should have explained to us all how Gronk--who apparently has more super-powers that rival Superman himself--could have 1) stopped his momentum in mid-stride (anyone saying that Keuchly pushed him out of the play is an utter moron: this is a guy who was big enough to drag THREE Panthers into the end-zone just an hour previous) 2) defied the laws of motion and went directly toward the under-thrown ball 3) de-materialized so that he could GO THROUGH Keuchly 4) Materialize again to get closer to the ball 5) De-materialize again so he could get on the other side of Lester and then 6) materialize again so he could have made the catch instead of the 4 Panthers who had even a better chance to catch the ball than he did.

I think I deserve a Science Show on ESPN now...

Posted by: STFUWhineyassPats | Nov 20, 2013 4:31:16 PM

Worst. "Science". Ever.

That ESPN guy's lame "analysis" wouldn't withstand the scrutiny of the folks over at "Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics" ( http://www.intuitor.com/moviephysics/ ), where they prove just how wrongly many scientific principles can be misrepresented. That ESPN poser is a perfect example of "Insultingly Stupid Sports Science".

I suppose now it's time for "Mythbusters" to take on "Kuechlygate".

Posted by: Rick | Nov 20, 2013 5:02:58 PM

The 4:31p and 3:32p responses are spot on, the Science Show conveniently and completely dismisses the fact that Kuechly's physical presence, legal or illegal, prevents him from reaching back to the catch the ball....Actually, ESPN's Science Guy segment is F***king B***S***

Posted by: Jay | Nov 20, 2013 5:13:42 PM

Their killing 2 birds one stone(nfl) with ESPN rehashing this utter BS by detracting from panthers and getting to promote Patriots and Tom Brady ,brilliant aholes. Lets catter to the court of dumbazzes opinion!!

Posted by: 10-4!! | Nov 20, 2013 5:26:02 PM

Let's get to the root of all this. Every human being on Earth that is not a Panthers fan is treating this as if NE had scored the winning TD, but the refs took the points off the board and handed the game to the Panthers. Was it PI? Yes. Does that guaratee that NE would have scored on the untimed down? NO! In fact, I'd bet a zillion dollars that our D-line would have stuffed a run, and a pass would have resulted in the same thing as the disputed play - Brady getting buried and throwng a duck. It was a bad call, but it did not change the outcome of the game.

Posted by: J | Nov 20, 2013 5:34:51 PM

Anybody want to take ad out in paper, so they care hear our voice! ILL DONATE. tell me where and how. Talk about spygate and the tuck rule all their sht!

Posted by: 10-4!! | Nov 20, 2013 5:35:10 PM

Can't wait until the sportsworld shuts up about this.

Posted by: Smitty | Nov 20, 2013 6:01:29 PM

That "science" took some amazing leaps that any physicist would find incredulous.

While everyone heard the NFL office ref say "I can't say they got it wrong", apparently no one heard him say "contact doesn't necessarily mean pass interference". Gronk tuned into Luke's path, meaning Gronk initiated the contact. It's not PI if the receiver causes the contact. It's not PI until Luke raises his hands, and by then the ball is crossing the line into the end zone and there's not a chance in ten quadrillionkazillion that Gronk could get back to catch the ball.

Posted by: Ben | Nov 20, 2013 6:11:27 PM

For perennial champions, they sure whine a lot.

I quit watching ESPN long ago.

Posted by: Scott Bryan | Nov 20, 2013 6:11:30 PM

The patriots aren't whining. The media asks them questions and they respond. The only people keeping this story going are those at ESPN.

Posted by: Come on guys | Nov 20, 2013 6:23:08 PM

So I suppose had Charles Johnson not been leg whipped that the Panthers would have stopped that touchdown drive of the Patriots... or if Hardy wasn't called for that accidental face mask that the Patriots drive would've been shortened... or if Talib was ejected from the game that the score would've been worse in favor of the Panthers... I could assume all these things... but guess what....


Posted by: 803 | Nov 20, 2013 6:40:46 PM

Sorry, I have a science background and there is no way I could possibly agree with that segment.
They took such ridiculous assumptions in that assessment that it is a fictional piece.
The most ridiculous part of it is that the sports science piece evidently forgot that as Gronk decelerates towards the back of the end zone he is in fact creating more distance between himself and the point of contact with the ball. They failed to bring that in the calculation. By the time he recognized the ball was short he was a good 5 yards from where Lester intercepted the ball.
Moreover, they brought up the Force equation but failed to actually do the equation. They would first need to calculate the forceand time required to stop his forward momentum to get to zero then to create another equation for acceleration to the point of the interception. If they did half the work required, then they would retract this piece and provide mea culpas for being ignorant of fundamental physics.

Posted by: Rob K | Nov 20, 2013 7:09:56 PM

One more thing, that Panthers win was well deserved and it is a great big shame that even our media are still talking about it. We are no nearly 48 hours out. This story is done.
Why don't you guys actually do some in depth reporting on the talent and backgrounds of our athletes and coaches.
I'm a bit ashamed that all the good articles about our players and coaches are coming from Grantland or other national sports media than our local guys.

Posted by: Rob K | Nov 20, 2013 7:17:30 PM

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