The Carolina Panthers-New England Patriots game ended in controversy on Monday night after the referees decided to pick up a penalty flag thrown on the final play of the game and walk off without explaining why they weren’t calling a penalty.
The Patriots were down 24-20 and had a 2nd-and-3 from the Carolina 18 with three seconds left. Tom Brady was pressured, stepped up in the pocket, and threw to the end zone for Rob Gronkowski. The ball was underthrown based on where Gronk was, but what didn’t help was that Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly was holding Gronk, preventing the tight end from making a play on the ball.
Robert Lester intercepted the pass.
Though the back judge threw a flag on the play, he picked it up after conferring with the other referees. Head referee Clete Blakeman said there was no foul on the play and that the game was over. He left most people wondering why they had picked up the flag.
My analysis is that Gronk probably would not have made the catch, but he could have at least made a play on the ball if he weren’t interfered with. Therefore it was a bad call to pick up the flag and rescind the penalty. And my goodness, at least explain to us why you’re picking up the flag!
Here’s another look at the play: