Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New England Patriots [Print without images]

Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Sport Science examines game-ending call

By ESPNBoston.com


Wednesday morning’s Sport Science segment on "SportsCenter" examines Monday night’s game-ending play, and specifically whether Rob Gronkowski could have made a play on the ball thrown by Tom Brady were it not for Luke Kuechly's “restrictive” contact.

Running at 16 miles per hour into the end zone, Gronk begins to decelerate nearly a full second before the ball arrives. Kuechly makes contact with Gronk a third of a second later, meaning contact happened 2/3 of a second before the ball was intercepted.

Sport Science projects that untouched, Gronk would have been able to decelerate from 16 mph to 0 mph in roughly a half-second. That would have given the Patriots tight end time to use his 8-foot-3 reach to make a play on the ball. Of course, he still would have had safety Robert Lester, who ultimately intercepted the ball, to contend with.

It’s highly improbable he would have been able to position himself to have a better shot at the ball than Lester, but the fact it might have even been possible makes the ruling that the pass was uncatchable -- which was the stated reason the pass interference flag was picked up -- a questionable one.