Yesterday in the Monday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers, NFL official Clete Blakeman made a controversial call, or non-call, at the end of the game that many people believed robbed the Patriots.
After a pass from Tom Brady was intercepted as time expired, a flag was thrown by Blakeman when it appeared tight end Rob Gronkowski was held by Panther’s linebacker Luke Kuechly. Shortly after conferring with other officials, Blakeman announced there was no penalty on the play sealing the Panthers 24-20 victory.
Following the game Blakeman defended his crew’s decision saying
“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 [immediately] at that point intercepted at the front end of the end zone,” he said. “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.”
Many disagreed with him, including Tom Brady who chased officials down and had a heated exchange with them as he left the field. During his postgame conference Brady said he never got an explanation.
“[The ref] didn’t say anything,” Brady said. “I didn’t really see the play, either, so I don’t know whether it was a good call or a bad call.”
Ultimately, Brady lamented that the fate of the Pats (7-3) came down to the final play.
“I wish it wouldn’t come down to that,” Brady said. “I think there are plenty of plays we could have made. But it did, and they are going to make a call or they are not going to make a call. … We can play better than that.”
Whether you agree with the call that was made or not, the bottom line is it was made and it can’t be changed. The Patriots have been on the other side of calls like this and it won’t be the last time a “controversial” call decides a game. The refs are human and will make calls you don’t agree with as well as miss some obvious calls. It’s up to teams to not put themselves in a position where a call can determine a W or an L. If I’m the Patriots I’m less concerned about last night’s call and more concerned about this Sunday’s matchup against the Denver Broncos.