NFL VP backs officials' decision to pick up flag at end of Pats-Panthers

November 21 [Thu], 2013, 5:56










{ width: 620, height: 429, wmode: 'opaque' }


The NFL's vice president of officiating said Tuesday he "wouldn't say" officials were wrong for not penalizing the Carolina Panthers for pass interference on the final play of Monday night's game against the New England Patriots.

"They determined that in their judgment the contact occurred simultaneous with the ball being intercepted and that's why the officials did what they did," Dean Blandino said on NFL Network. "Once the ball is touched you cannot have pass interference."

MORE: Belichick says Pats need to move on

A quick review of the play:

With the ball at the Carolina 18 and a lineman bearing down on him, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady didn't step into his throw as he usually does. The underthrown pass was intercepted by Robert Lester about 4 yards into the end zone. Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski, a few yards behind Lester, couldn't move toward the ball with Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly bear-hugging him.

Referee Clete Blakeman conferred for a few seconds with back judge Terrence Miles, who threw the flag. Miles shook his head. Then Blakeman said there was no foul and the game was over. Later, Blakeman told two pool reporters that Miles had called defensive pass interference but the ball was uncatchable.

MONDAY NIGHT: More on the no-call | Newton has breakthrough | Week 11 must-see images

Luke Kuechly vs. Rob Gronkowski (AP Photo)

Even if the penalty stood, the ball would have been placed at the 1 and the Patriots still would have needed a touchdown.

"I don't make the calls or the rules," Brady said. "I wish it wouldn't have come down to that. I think there were plenty of plays we could've made."

New England coach Bill Belichick wouldn't discuss the officials' decision.

"I don't really have any comment to add about the officiating or any of those calls," Belichick said during a conference call Tuesday. "If you have any questions on that, you can talk to the league office and the officiating department. Let them give their explanation."

Or you can listen to Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich.

"Both arms are being wrapped around the receiver as the ball's in the air," he said on WEEI radio. "A foul's a foul. No matter what it is, the ball's there. It's not like the ball's 20 feet over his head or it lands on the 5-yard line or something."

Carolina coach Ron Rivera said Tuesday he would have been upset if his receiver had been held in that situation.

"No doubt about it," he said, but "no matter how much people talk about it and rehash it, it's not going to change."

Original source