Some games are won … others are gifted.
The latter was clearly the case in Charlotte, N.C. on Monday night as the hometown Carolina Panthers benefited from a controversial no-call on the final play of the game – enabling them to defeat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots 24-20.
Both playoff contenders are 7-3 on the season.
With the ball on the Panthers eighteen-yard-line, Brady dropped back to pass as the final seconds ticked off the game clock. Facing pressure, he stepped up in the pocket and released the ball toward the end zone – looking for tight end Rob Gronkowski.
The only problem? Gronkowski was getting bear-hugged by Panthers’ linebacker Luke Kuechly – and was pushed out of the area of the end zone where Brady’s pass was thrown (enabling Panthers’ rookie defensive back Robert Lester to pick off the throw).
Recognizing a penalty had occurred, back judge Terrence Miles threw a flag for pass interference – however the flag was picked up after the officiating crew conferred on the play.
Here’s what happened …
(Click to play)
Had officials permitted the penalty to stand, New England would have had been awarded one final play from the one-yard line – however it was determined that Brady’s pass to Gronkowski was “uncatchable.”
“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,” referee Clete Blakeman said after the game. “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.”
Umm … okay.
But isn’t the reason Gronkowski wasn’t in a position to catch the ball because he was illegally pushed out of the area?