Watch CBS News

Game Ends On Controversial Non-Call, But Tom Brady Says Patriots Had Their Chances

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

FOXBORO (CBS) -- The Patriots have been here before.

Week 11, 2013, coming off their bye week, facing a top NFC team on national TV in a game that would not be decided until the final seconds. That night in Carolina, Luke Kuechly wrapped his arms around mammoth tight end Rob Gronkowski in the end zone as Tom Brady's pass sailed toward the goal line. Gronkowski couldn't get to the pass, which was intercepted, but a yellow flag flew in the area. After the officials held a meeting on the field, referee Clete Blakeman announced that there was no foul on the play. The Patriots lost and left the field, but not before Brady lit into Blakeman as the two walked toward the stadium tunnel.

Now this year, in Week 11, coming off a bye week, facing a top NFC team on national TV, almost exactly three years to the date, the Patriots lost in similar fashion. On a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line with 14 seconds left in a seven-point game, Brady lobbed a pass to the left side of the end zone for Gronkowski. The tight end had initiated contact with All-Pro safety Kam Chancellor, and Gronkowski ended up getting tugged to the turf, unable to reach the pass sailing above his head.

No penalty flag was thrown, and the Patriots yet again came so close to victory. This time, though, there was no verbal evisceration of any referee, and after the loss, the Patriots didn't say the officials should have bailed them out.

"I mean, there's always a lot of contact with that team. Sometimes you get the call, sometimes you don't," Brady said of the final incompletion. "So, certainly, it looks like it came down to one play, but it probably was a lot of plays in this game that we could have done a better job of [executing]."

Though Gronkowski protested in the moment on the field, he didn't have much of a complaint when discussing the play after the game.

"I mean, it didn't get called. It is what it is," Gronkowski said, channeling his inner Bill Belichick. "If it's not a [penalty] to the refs, then it's not [a penalty] to the refs. The play is what it is. You can't really change it."

Brady himself lamented the interception he threw midway threw the second quarter as one such play. The Patriots also fumbled three times, losing possession once, and the defense surrendered 420 yards and 31 points to a Seahawks offense that ranked near the bottom of the league in both categories heading into the weekend.

So while the non-call will generate some debate in the region, it's not being looked at by the Patriots as the reason they lost.

"We had plenty of chances," Brady said. "Our execution just wasn't as good as it needed to be."

From the Seahawks' perspective, there was some justice to be found in winning a game with a goal-line stand. While the moment Sunday night in Foxboro was not quite as significant as the one in Super Bowl XLIX 21 months ago in Arizona, beating a Brady-led team in its own building was nevertheless an accomplishment that Seattle's players didn't let go by without savoring.

"I think it's ironic, it comes down to the 1-yard line and a pass for us to win the game," cornerback Richard Sherman said. "Kam did a great job, great coverage. You can't cover it any better than that. [Gronkowski] tried to bulldoze [Chancellor], and you can't just bulldoze him."

Sherman, of course, agreed with the lack of penalty call.

"I mean, you tell me. Does [Gronkowski] get to just run the defender over? We're entitled to our ground, and I think Kam played it as good as you can play it."

Rob Gronkowski, Kam Chancellor
Rob Gronkowski and Kam Chancellor entangle in the end zone. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Chancellor, who was playing in his first game since Oct. 2 due to a groin injury, felt confident after the play that there would be no penalty called.

"Oh yeah, I knew I didn't [do anything wrong]. I'm going backwards, I was being pushed the whole time," Chancellor said. "So I wasn't really worried about the flag."

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll wasn't quite as confident as his safety.

"Well, I kind of wait through those moments. You know, I don't want to go to the negative, so I just wait through the moment a little bit," Carroll said. "And then I saw there was nothing, and we knew we had the game. But it's kind of like impending doom, if you want to go there. I think that I was kind of waiting it out, and everything worked out for him."

Safety and defensive captain Devin McCourty said the Patriots can't rely on a penalty call to win a game for them.

"It could go either way. I mean, sometimes you get those calls, but as a defensive player, you always hope they let you play," McCourty said. "It's a tough call. It could easily be called pass interference, but those are always tough calls on the 1- or 2-yard line."

Belichick's thoughts were along the same line.

"It was a really competitive play," Belichick said. "I thought the game was well-officiated. They did a good job of letting the players play. I mean, they called some things they had to call. I focus really on our team, what we can do. That's we need to do."

Gronkowski admitted that at times in the past, he's felt that he hasn't gotten the benefit of the doubt when contact is made because of his large stature. But in this instance, he didn't want to use that ready-made excuse.

"I'm not here to make excuses and say that was a [penalty]. I just want to -- we just lost a game. I want to give credit to the Seahawks," Gronkowski said. "They played a good game."

And though Belichick expressed disappointment in a wide range of areas for his team, he still gave all the possible credit to the team on the other side of the field.

"Give Seattle credit. They have a good football team. They're very well-coached, they're tough, they compete on every play, they have a lot of good players, a lot of good players who play good, as we do. You can't get much more competitive than it was out there," Belichick said. "But give them credit, they did a little bit more than we did tonight. We've got to do a better job, but I'm not taking anything away from them. That's a good football team in all three phases of the game. They're good on offense, they're good on defense, they're good in the kicking game. Every play is competitive; there's no plays off. You've got to do a good job on every single play, and that's what it takes to compete against them. So, you can start with [Russell] Wilson and go right down the line, whoever you want: Wilson, Sherman, the backs, the receivers, the tight ends, the front, the edge rushers, the secondary, linebackers, kick returner, take whoever you want. They're tough. It's not easy to make plays against them. We made a lot of them, but they made a couple more. Give them credit. They deserve it."

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.