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Replay could have aided ref in Patriots-Panthers ending

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Pass interference penalties are not reviewable in the NFL. But as the entire NFL reviews a controversial pass interference non-call at the end of Monday night’s Patriots-Panthers game, it’s been largely overlooked that one element of the play could have been reviewed: Whether the ball was touched before pass interference occurred.

NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino said in his quasi-defense of the decision to pick up the pass interference flag that the key question was, “when did the restriction occur in relation to the ball being touched?” In other words, which happened first, Luke Kuechly grabbing Rob Gronkowski, or Robert Lester touching Tom Brady’s pass?

As noted by Blandino’s predecessor, Mike Pereira, on today’s Dan Patrick Show, referee Clete Blakeman could have used instant replay to answer that question. Although pass interference penalties are not reviewable, touching of a forward pass by a defensive player is reviewable.

“This would have initiated a replay review because that aspect of the play is reviewable,” Pereira said. “You can review the touching of a pass in relationship to pass interference being called, and since it was called and then picked up, if that’s the reason it was picked up, then replay could have put it back on. So replay, somehow, should have gotten involved in this to find out exactly why they picked the flag up. And nobody has really talked about that at this point.”

However, it’s still not clear why the flag was picked up. Although Blandino said the key question was when the ball was touched, Blakeman himself said the key question was whether the pass was catchable. And whether or not a pass is catchable is not reviewable.

Perhaps the NFL needs to change the replay rules so that referees have the authority to use instant replay on such plays. If a game comes down to a judgment call on the last play of the game, the referee should be permitted to check the replay before declaring the game over.

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55 Responses to “Replay could have aided ref in Patriots-Panthers ending”
  1. chawk12thman says: Nov 20, 2013 5:46 PM

    Replay would have been nice, but the outcome would be the same as the officiating crew (past and present) seem to indicate the right call was made.

    Time to move on.

  2. crownofthehelmet says: Nov 20, 2013 5:48 PM

    I’d love to see the replay machine that can stop Brady from throwing into triple coverage with the game on the line.

  3. logicalvoicesays says: Nov 20, 2013 5:48 PM

    Here’s how many Superbowls the Patriots* have won since Spygate :

  4. thesmartest1 says: Nov 20, 2013 5:49 PM

    Every Patsie fan wants it reviewed. Every other fan laughs. Karma is wonderful.

  5. jdphx says: Nov 20, 2013 5:51 PM


    “If a game comes down to a judgment call on the last play of the game, the referee should be permitted to check the replay before declaring the game over.”

  6. sactogary says: Nov 20, 2013 5:55 PM

    The flag was picked up because refs do not call PI on the last play of the game, no matter how egregious the foul. I can’t find any record of it happening since 1978, Saints-Falcons. They’re just not willing to give a team the ball on the one for an untimed play. Defensive backs know this – see Fail Mary.

  7. thestrategyexpert says: Nov 20, 2013 5:56 PM

    Or the Oversight person can promptly determine any play that is significant for review purposes due to unusual and interesting circumstances. Just let the Refs concentrate on following a simpler protocol, and when an outside decision needs to be made for them it will be done automatically and they get notified of the news that this is an outside decision.

    The outside decisions can then be triggered any time a potential and significant referee mistake might have occurred. Then there is no blaming the refs, because they are not responsible for mistakes, only the oversight person is if they didn’t identify the mistake and do what they are supposed to do.

  8. lambeauphan says: Nov 20, 2013 6:00 PM

    this play is like the Fail Mary’s red headed step cousin, its a joke

  9. akfinfan says: Nov 20, 2013 6:04 PM

    How many times are we going to change the rules because of the Patriots?? Penalty or not, the Patriots got a taste of their own medicine….for once.

  10. Patskrieg dot com says: Nov 20, 2013 6:14 PM

    To the surprise of no one more holes develop in an explanation that Blandino himself couldn’t have even believed when he said it.

    Hey Cardinals fans. Remember the end of Super Bowl 43? The officials sprinting off the field desperate to get away from a reviewable decision?What was that “karma” for?

  11. Deb says: Nov 20, 2013 6:17 PM

    thesmartest1 says:

    Every Patsie fan wants it reviewed. Every other fan laughs. Karma is wonderful.

    Not a “Patsie” fan–a football fan. The Tuck Rule was in the book before that long ago Pats/Raiders game, but it was a stupid rule. The Raiders were screwed by the rule, not by the Pats. Thankfully, the rule is finally gone.

    What happened Monday night is not in the rule book. It’s illegal to mug offensive players, and that was–at the very least–defensive holding. Why would football fans celebrate garbage calls against any team? Bad officiating hurts the game.

    What good is replay if it’s not applied to situations like this one?

  12. thewiz37 says: Nov 20, 2013 6:18 PM

    I’m a Pats fan.

    My team benefitted significantly from a call being overturned by instant replay 12 seasons ago, so I am therefore banned from ever critiquing the performance of NFL referees in games the Patriots play in.

  13. captainspangled says: Nov 20, 2013 6:19 PM

    Overall it wouldn’t have mattered anyways because Lester makes contact with the ball prior to the hug which negates any flag that could be thrown there, per official NFL League rules.

    It probably is a good idea to have penalties be reviewable though, but with everything else they review, it almost seems like adding something else is like “ugh, this now too?”

  14. frankenklein9009 says: Nov 20, 2013 6:19 PM

    Don’t they review every touchdown now to make sure it is good?

  15. mannynh says: Nov 20, 2013 6:22 PM

    it just occurred to me…, shouldn’t the play have been under review because the play resulted with a turnover and all turnovers have to get reviewed. Would that have opened up the chance for them to review the defensive player touching the forward pass?..

    either way, I thought it was not handled very well by the refs..

  16. butzmark says: Nov 20, 2013 6:23 PM

    The best new thing they could do with replay is to use it to grade officials and get rid of the bad ones.

  17. redbirdsrising says: Nov 20, 2013 6:26 PM

    Not a pats fan by far, but I love how everyone seems to be OK with this call just because the Pats benefited from the Tuck rule or Spygate.

    That’s a non sequiter and irrelevant. The wrong call was made on the field. Contact was made as Gronk was trying to work back to the ball and he was deliberately dragged down well before the defender made contact.

    Bad non call by the head ref.

  18. formyministy says: Nov 20, 2013 6:32 PM

    we have to fix it because it involved the patriots, right? any team that’s not on the golden list, you’d be saying, “time to move on”…packers or patriots get even a questionable call, much less they get jobbed, and it’s “stop the presses! we’ve got to do something!”

  19. insider7 says: Nov 20, 2013 6:36 PM

    When the head of NFL officiating gives a completely different rationale than the rationale given by the ref on the field for why the flag was picked up, you know something is very wrong.

    Somebody is lying and it may be that both are lying.

  20. beelicker says: Nov 20, 2013 6:37 PM

    Can anyone find another instance of such a ball being ruled “uncatchable” due to having been intercepted first?

  21. tgcpanthersfan says: Nov 20, 2013 6:37 PM

    I seem to recall a Colts-Pats game ending on a late INT in which then Colts WR Garcon was being interfered with in the same way.

    Its simple a win is a win move on.

  22. bullethead527 says: Nov 20, 2013 6:43 PM

    As a Panther fan I have to admit in was PI. Same call that they made against Kuechly on Stevie Johnson during the Bills game.

    But, there were a lot of non calls that the REFS didn’t call on the Pats.

    The Two headbutts in front of the REFS

    The Leg Whip (Pats fans say it was not intentional) I believe it was. Regardless it still is a penalty.

    Pats OL getting away with holding, especially on screen plays.

    The Talib face mask on Steve Smith in the end zone (ref was right there and seen it) he broke it up.

    There were more, but I would have to go back and watch the game again.

    It sucks to end the game like that, I would have loved to beat the Pats with no Fail Mary type call. But it did not work out that way. Time to move on.

  23. jmb795 says: Nov 20, 2013 6:43 PM

    Note to Pats fans; Get over it.

  24. promickey says: Nov 20, 2013 6:44 PM

    Well bottom line Patriot TE Gronk was interfered with prior to the football being intercepted by the Panthers. The replay clearly shows that…..

  25. thinredline69 says: Nov 20, 2013 6:49 PM

    The whole world knows the Pats would have one less ring if not for egregious officiating. As far as I’m concerned until one of these blown calls costs them a Super Bowl then they have no room to complain about anything….unless, god forbid, they get caught cheating or something.

  26. olddirtytruth says: Nov 20, 2013 6:51 PM

    What a horrible play by Kuchley, no need to grab Gronkowski. No way Gronkowski he was getting to that terribly under thrown pass by Brady. Even if he could stop his momentum on a dime and come back in a split second he still wasn’t getting there before Lester which had a better angle.

  27. donz0 says: Nov 20, 2013 7:01 PM

    The Patriots organization moved on. So should their fans.

  28. vcupats says: Nov 20, 2013 7:10 PM

    The irony of that play is that Brady could have just thrown it to Amendola and neither Gronk or Kuechly would have been involved in the play.

  29. bennyb82 says: Nov 20, 2013 7:28 PM

    It is hard to trust officials with instant replay on obvious situations…so to replay situations with grey are probably not a good idea.

  30. 1rockyracoon says: Nov 20, 2013 7:39 PM

    Good call or bad call, I’m not sure. But, I do enjoy the fact the Patriots actually didn’t get their way. It wasn’t too long ago when they were handily beating teams and winning Super Bowls. Now they have to rely more on last second passes and penalties to win games. Too bad for them.

  31. thebirdofprey2 says: Nov 20, 2013 8:04 PM

    Replay pass interference calls? Football has already the most stoppages of any major sport. The NFL added about 10 new commercial breaks a game moving the kick off 5 yards.

    I love watching the game but l think some calls should go on real time. So many plays already go to review and still leaves fans outraged at rulings. I am sure I am in the majority when I said its already stupid they review every scoring play these days.

  32. catman72 says: Nov 20, 2013 8:25 PM

    Pass wasn’t catchable because Robert Lester caught it… how hard is it for people to understand this??? LOL

  33. kenstabler says: Nov 20, 2013 8:43 PM

    The curse of (Tuck Rules Past). I was so glad replay was not used on this play, because it was total interference. Gronk was basically herded toward the back end zone by Keuchly and was given no chance to come forward to the ball.

    It was a great day, and twice this season the pat’s have been bitten by the curse. I just want it to happen to them in the playoffs now.

    My Tom Brady voodoo doll is finally working!!!!

  34. salemi1964 says: Nov 20, 2013 8:43 PM

    The panthers are a physical team, lately that give the pats problems

  35. theparadoxx82 says: Nov 20, 2013 8:47 PM

    Replay could could have aided ref in the blatant dirty hit on CJ too

  36. gcc0344 says: Nov 20, 2013 9:06 PM

    The more this is looked at the more ugly it gets. The NFL could end if it just admits it was a huge error and the officials will be disciplined!

  37. quentinsands says: Nov 20, 2013 10:32 PM

    Only one thing is certain…

    99% of the folks posting here would be calling it blatant, undeniable pass interference if their team was the victim.

  38. disturbedshifty says: Nov 20, 2013 10:35 PM

    Only reason this is STILL being talked about is because it is the NFL’s darlings. If this were to happen to any other team there would be one more report about it and then swept under the rug. But because it is Brady and the Patriots it is headline news.

  39. pongonfl says: Nov 20, 2013 11:26 PM

    They should definatly look at all Pats games in the last 14 years and see if correct pass interference calls would impact the outcome of the game.
    Would cost a certain dynasty a few rings.

  40. officialgame says: Nov 20, 2013 11:39 PM

    Enough with dam replays there are already enough of them. The games already to long and all the stoppages are ridicules. Somewhere along the way the officials should be held accountable for making the proper call without replay bailing them out.

  41. zackattack006 says: Nov 20, 2013 11:41 PM

    The day they allow replay on penalties, that will be the last day Bellichick’s team will get away with murder.

  42. firstroyal says: Nov 20, 2013 11:46 PM

    please tell me why the patriots are getting all this attention because of a game changing penelty when there are 2 or 3 a WEEK??? Is the patriots the only teams that matter?

  43. gameover78 says: Nov 21, 2013 12:35 AM

    I use to not like Brady, but the guy continues to produce even with all his weapons taken from him this year. I mean to lose Welker and get Amendola….thats just dumb. I’m a Brady fan now, he produces with less and wins games in the playoffs and even whines less than Peyton Manning. I’d take Brady over Manning, he’s cheaper too!

  44. bspurloc says: Nov 21, 2013 12:59 AM

    Talib didnt get flagged for a facemask call because he had 2 hands on the mask…
    course it was after the play so there is no face mask after the play… It should have been Taunting

  45. rumblefsh9 says: Nov 21, 2013 12:59 AM

    I am not a Pats fan, but as a fan of football i realize that they got robbed on that call. Period.

  46. rjkilla says: Nov 21, 2013 2:07 AM

    it was an awful throw. move on people

  47. fasbss53 says: Nov 21, 2013 2:46 AM

    The only ones that thought it was the right call are the jealous Patriot haters that have nothing to cheer for!!!!

  48. borisbulldog says: Nov 21, 2013 6:14 AM

    It’s a proven fact that Kuechly can’t ball clean if his life depended on it!

    Kinda like his micro teammate Steve Smith!

  49. wouldabeenthere says: Nov 21, 2013 6:35 AM

    Patriots fan for 50 years. Good call or bad call is irrelevent. It’s done. Keep making excuses for why replay should be enabled for “special situations” and eventually we have replay following every play of the game. Game clock will need to be reduced to 30 minutes because 5 – 6 hour games won’t fly.

  50. latenightroach says: Nov 21, 2013 7:03 AM

    Nice to see Karma in effect. Priceless to see Brady losing it after the game.

  51. 1mommicked1 says: Nov 21, 2013 7:28 AM

    it was replayed over and over. everyone who saw the game saw the replay many times—but the officials never saw it once.

  52. tbradysgay says: Nov 21, 2013 8:04 AM

    Pats always get the calls their way. One goes against them and its news for the whole week. Pats not going anywhere this year and Bradys days are coming to an end.

  53. bobsnygiants says: Nov 21, 2013 2:31 PM

    need full time refs

  54. pillowporkers says: Nov 21, 2013 5:34 PM

    Please don’t allow replay of flags now. The game as a whole has already taken over baseball as the slowest moving sporting event, and more specifically, the last 2 minutes of a half have also already officially taken over the last 2 minutes of a basketball game as the slowest 2 minutes in sports as well.

  55. jsrdc says: Nov 23, 2013 10:14 AM

    “If a game comes down to a judgment call on the last play of the game, the referee should be permitted to check the replay before declaring the game over.”

    No, if a game comes down to a judgement call, the referee should be REQUIRED to check the replay before declaring the game over.

    Referees are there to enforce the rules in place, not make mistakes that could cost a team a game. I am not saying they cost the Patriots this game, but it was clear to me holding occurred by Kuechly BEFORE the pass was ever touched. And I am not a Pats fan – I don’t have a dog in this fight. As a football fan, you want the games as fair as possible, and that includes calling penalties correctly.

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