Referee defends no-call on final play of Patriots-Panthers game

The New England Patriots lost a game on a controversial call—or no call—by an official late in the game for the second time this season.

The Patriots fell to the Carolina Panthers’ 24-20 Monday night after a penalty that could have saved them on the final play was waived off.

Tom Brady’s throw to Rob Gronkowski was intercepted in the end zone as time expired in regulation, although Gronkowski appeared to be held by Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly.

A flag was thrown on the play, but after conferring with all of the officials, referee Clete Blakeman announced that there was no a penalty on the play and waived off the flag.

Mike Reiss of and Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer attended the pool report with Blakeman after the game, transcribed by

Mike Reiss: I guess the first question is what was seen on the last play to initially have the official throw the flag?
Clete 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.

MR: The follow-up naturally, what was discussed to then pick up the flag?
CB: 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.

Joe Person: Have you guys had a chance to review it yet and what were your thoughts on the review?
CB: 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.

JP: Are you confident it was the right call?
CB: 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.

MR: Is there anything else you want to mention?
CB: Nothing else.

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  • Terry F

    NFL is going to end up like Nascar. Lot of empty seats. That call was right and he was mugged. Getting to were the refs have way too much power and dictat the outcome of the game.

  • smedrano0206

    It made up for the previous bad pass interference call on the Panthers

  • rangerrun

    So, in essence, we blew the call, and, in essence, I’m up here trying to do my best Jay Carney imitation, in essence, defending Obama.

  • brainpup

    This was one of the easiest calls for the Ref’s to make all night long, and they got it wrong. The Flag was thrown for a reason, you just can’t go and pick it up and say the Games over….They showed the replay right there on the big screen just seconds after it happened and the whole World saw that it was pass interference or at the least Defensive holding !!!

    This was way to important of a Game to let end on this kind of Bad call.

    New England should have gotten the ball on the 1 yard line.

    Instant Replay is there for a reason, if these Ref’s don’t know how to use it, or don’t make the proper call when it is plainly evident, they should be fired and bring in someone else who is better qualified.

    New England got robbed.

    note: I live in Charlotte and I feel bad about taking the Win…..

  • DrT

    I am NO PATRIOT fan…in fact I have serious disgust for Boston after being exposed to Red Sox fans in the World Series. That was nonetheless a terrible and indefensible decision…were these officials from the BIG 12? Because ONLY in the Big 12 have I EVER seen such bad officiating…and THERE it happens all the time!

  • rgorr

    Refs initially made the correct call then choked, picked up the flag and got the hell outta there without even an explanation! What a surprise the officials league office don’t even have the stones to admit mistake was made.

  • Anthony13

    In essence, they officiating crew blew the call. In essence, the ball was catchable IF Gronkowski had been allowed to stop. In essence, that’s difficult to do when one is being pushed away from the ball. I’m not a Pats fine by a long shot. In fact, I probably dislike them more than most but, in essence, the players still deserve fair treatment.

  • FRS

    BS, how can he make that determination when the receiver was being pushed backward before the ball was intercepted. Further, Gronk has caught ball like that more than once in his career. Third and final it was a penalty and the game cannot end on a penalty.