Final no-call seals Pats' 24-20 loss to Carolina
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Tom Brady marched his team down the field in the
final seconds for a chance at another clutch scoring drive from the
three-time Super Bowl champion. Instead, the game ended with an
interception, a waved-off penalty and plenty of frustration for the New England Patriots.
Brady was picked off while looking for Rob Gronkowski in the end zone
on the last play of a 24-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Monday
night, then argued with officials as he headed to the tunnel for
reversing themselves by picking up a flag for pass interference.
The Patriots moved to the Carolina 18-yard line with 3 seconds left,
setting up Brady's final throw. Replays showed Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly wrapping Gronkowski in a bear hug toward the back of the end
zone while safety Robert Lester intercepted the underthrown ball as
time expired. Back judge Terrence Miles threw a flag, but the officials
gathered and waved it off.
"When I saw the flag, that's what I thought it was going to be,"
Gronkowski said. "It was waved off, so I can't do anything about it.
When you're live in the action, you don't even feel anything. You just
Brady's reaction was to angrily make his case to officials. Afterward,
he said he didn't get an explanation and couldn't see what happened
well enough to know if it was a good call.
"(Gronkowski) was kind of weaving in and out of there and I just didn't
really want to throw it over his head and out of bounds," Brady said.
"So I was a little indecisive. It wasn't a great throw. No excuses. It
should've been a better throw."
Referee Clete Blakeman said after the game that Miles saw there was
contact and Kuechly was not playing the ball, and that initially led
Miles to call defensive pass interference. But Blakeman said the
officials met and decided the ball was "underthrown" and it came down
to a matter of "uncatchability."
A pass-interference call would have put the ball on the 1-yard line and
given the Patriots one more shot at a game-winning touchdown with no
time on the clock.
"You never like to end the game like that on a call but I'm pleased
that our officiating crew got together and communicated and discussed
it and ultimately we believe we got it right," Blakeman said.
The final drive followed Cam Newton's 25-yard touchdown pass to Ted Ginn Jr. with 59 seconds left for the go-ahead score that sent Carolina
(7-3) to its sixth straight victory.
Stephen Gostkowski's 26-yard field goal put the Patriots (7-3) up 20-17
before Newton drove Carolina 83 yards on 13 plays for a touchdown. The
speedy Ginn escaped Kyle Arrington along the left sideline and outraced
Logan Ryan to the left pylon for his third TD of the season.
After the final no call, Panthers players spilled onto the field from
the sideline to celebrate in front of a roaring home crowd.
"There was no explanation given to me. Officials ran off the field. I
didn't see anything," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "There was a
flag thrown and then the game was over."
Brady finished 29 of 40 for 296 yards and one touchdown.
Newton completed 19 of 28 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns. He
also ran seven times for 62 yards in what will go down as one of his
best games a pro.
After the game, Carolina coach Ron Rivera called it a "gutsy effort."
"It wasn't our best defensive effort, but it was one of our better
offensive efforts," Rivera said. "It was good for our guys to win a
game like this."
The Panthers entered the fourth quarter with a 17-10 lead, but Stevan Ridley made up for an earlier fumble with a 1-yard touchdown run and
the Patriots took the lead with 6:32 left in the game when Gostkowski
slipped a short field goal just inside the left upright.
Newton gave Carolina a 17-10 lead in the third quarter on an 81-yard
touchdown drive that took more than 8 minutes off the clock and
featured a scramble in which the third-year quarterback avoided four
tacklers and turned a potential 20-yard sack into a 14-yard gain and a
Newton completed all seven passes on the drive for 77 yards, finding
Greg Olsen at the right pylon with 2:10 left to put the Panthers back
"Cam did the things he needed to do to put us in position to win the
football game," Rivera said. "It has a lot to do with his maturity that
we have talked about."
No-Call Seals Patriots' Loss
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