The morning after losing to the Panthers on a controversial non-call in the end zone on the final play of the game, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was not any more inclined to discuss the play than he was following the game.
“If you have any questions on that you can talk to the league office,” Belichick said when asked about it on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday morning.
A throw from Tom Brady to tight end Rob Gronkowski was intercepted as time expired, giving the Panthers a 24-20 victory. The intended target, Gronkowski, appeared to have been held by linebacker Luke Kuechly. A flag was thrown, but after conferring with other officials, referee Clete Blakeman announced there was no penalty on the play because the throw was deemed uncatchable.
The play has created a stir among Patriots followers, who argue the ball might have been catchable had Gronkowski not been interfered with. If the pass-interference penalty had been upheld, the Patriots would have had one final play at the 1-yard line and a chance for a game-winning touchdown.
“Whatever the officials think is the only thing that matters,” Belichick said Tuesday. “They’re the ones that make the calls. It’s their explanation and their judgment that we all have to abide by.”
Could Kuechly have been flagged instead for defensive holding, a penalty that would have given the Patriots one more play from the 13-yard line? That’s a potential scenario Bill Barnwell lays out in a Grantland piece posted Monday morning.
When asked about that possibility, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said the team has moved on.
“I’m just really right now trying to turn the page and working on Denver,” he said. "I let the officials do the officiating, that’s not my job. My job is just to coach the players and try to do better in what we’re doing defensively.”