BOSTON (CBS) - Monday night's Patriots-Panthers game ended in a bit of controversy, as officials picked up a flag on the final play of the 24-20 win by Carolina.
The Patriots had one final chance to beat the Panthers, trailing 24-20 with four seconds left. Quarterback Tom Brady went looking for tight end Rob Gronkowski, and when his throw was picked off there was a little glimmer of hope as a yellow flag made its way to the field.
Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly was holding Gronkowski in the end zone, and a hold or pass interference call appeared to be coming. But head referee Clete Blakeman and his crew huddled up and waved off the flag, saying Brady's pass was uncatchable by Gronkowski.
Blakeman spoke to pool reporters (Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com and Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer) after the game. Here is the transcript of that chat:
Reiss: I guess the first question is what was seen on the last play to initially have the official throw the flag?
Blakeman: The back judge saw that there was contact and the defender was not playing the ball and that led him to throw for defensive pass inference, was the initial call.
Reiss: The follow-up naturally, what was discussed to then pick up the flag?
Blakeman: There were two officials that came in. One was the umpire and the other one was our side judge and there was a discussion at that point as to the, in essence, the catchability of the ball due to its location. 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 immediate at that point intercepted at the front end of the end zone. 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.
Person: Have you guys had a chance to review it yet and what were your thoughts on the review?
Blakeman: Two things, yeah, we have video in the room, the TV on in the locker room, so yeah, we all saw it, looked at it and that was, in essence, it pretty much mirrored the discussion that occurred. Terrence Miles, our back judge, saw the contact, he saw what he saw, and threw on it. And then the discussion came in with respect to the ball and its location and the defender who ultimately basically undercut the play and intercepted it at the, in essence, the middle to the front part of the end zone.
Person: Are you confident it was the right call?
Blakeman: Yeah, in review, yeah. I think so. I'm pleased that…well, two situations. You never like to end the game with some controversy like that on a call, but I'm pleased that our officiating crew got together and communicated and discussed it and, ultimately, I believe we got it right. So that to me is the part that is coming away from it. I'm pleased that our crew was able to discuss it and make the call right.
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