BY NICK ST. DENIS
An otherwise great game has been summed up over the last 10 hours in one discussion over a controversial call (or no-call) at the end of the New England Patriots' Monday night showdown with the Carolina Panthers.
From the 18-yard line with just one play worth of time remaining and the Patriots down by 4, quarterback Tom Brady targeted Rob Gronkowski in the middle of the end zone. The pass, however, came up short and was picked off by safety Robert Lester.
The back judge threw a flag at the end of the play for Luke Kuechly interfering with Gronkowski. The flag, however, was picked up after the officials convened and decided the pass was intercepted out of Gronkowski's range.
After the game, the officials watched different versions of the replay and ultimately left the stadium feeling good about their decision.
"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," referee Clete Blakeman said after the game, via WEEI. "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."
Whether or not it was the right call (or, again, non-call), the referees offered no explanation to those watching nor to the coaches and players prior to the flag pick-up.
And so the Patriots lost, and the Panthers won their sixth-straight. Now, moving forward, we can focus a little on the 59 minutes and 59 seconds of really good football.
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