Connect with us


Patriots get interference flag on last-second play, seconds later flag picked up



blakeman brady

Game ends on defensive pass inter…ception

Post updates: comments from former supervisor Jim Daopoulos and pool report with referee Clete Blakeman

With three seconds to go, down by 4, and with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady at the helm, you know that there is pending drama (video).

Brady was intercepted in the end zone by the Panthers, but back judge Terrence Miles threw a flag for pass interference. He called in side judge Greg Meyer; umpire Garth DeFelice joined in. By the time referee Clete Blakeman came to the end zone, Miles was shaking his head “no” and tucking his flag in his belt. The announcement:

There’s no foul on the play. Game is over.

That’s it.

This was clearly a catchable ball, which is what Miles was talked out of, rather than going with his instinct. Receiver Rob Gronkowski still had an ability to make a play on the ball, but was restricted by Panthers defensive back Luke Kuechly. On the ESPN broadcast, failing a description from Blakeman, former official Gerry Austin provided analysis from the booth which seems to import new interpretation into the old grey book:

I see the contact occurs deep, back near the end line, but the ball is intercepted — underneath. Therefore that takes [defensive pass interference] off. There is no chance for this receiver to catch the ball. Therefore, there’s no foul.

Jim Daopoulos tells Football Zebras that he believes it was a foul.

Pass interference occurs when a defender is not playing the ball and restricts the receiver’s opportunity to make the catch.  This absolutely occurs on the play in Carolina as Kuechly is not playing the ball and restricts Gronkowski from having an opportunity to make the catch.  The official correctly calls the foul for pass interference, then picks up his flag.

The ball was catchable as the definition of “uncatchable” is clearly over an end line or side line and not one that is short of the receiver because he is being restricted. This is a foul and the penalty should have been enforced and ball placed on the one yard line.






Update 1:15 a.m. ET: Blakeman was interviewed by pool reporters Mike Reiss (Boston) and Joe Person (Charlotte). (I contacted the league, and a spokesman had nothing to add at this hour.)

Mike Reiss: I guess the first question is what was seen on the last play to initially have the official throw the flag?

Clete Blakeman:  The back judge saw that there was contact and the defender was not playing the ball and that led him to throw for defensive pass inference, was the initial call.

Reiss: The follow-up naturally, what was discussed to then pick up the flag?

Blakeman:  There were two officials that came in.  One was the umpire and the other one was our side judge and there was a discussion at that point as to the, in essence, the catchability of the ball due to its location.  So it was determined at that point in time that when the primary contact occurred on the tight end that the ball, in essence, was coming in underthrown and in essence it was immediate at that point intercepted at the front end of the end zone. So there was a determination that, in essence, uncatchability, that the ball was intercepted at or about the same time the primary contact against the receiver occurred.

Joe Person: Have you guys had a chance to review it yet and what were your thoughts on the review?

Blakeman: Two things, yeah, we have video in the room, the TV on in the locker room, so yeah, we all saw it, looked at it and that was, in essence, it pretty much mirrored the discussion that occurred.  Terrence Miles, our back judge, saw the contact, he saw what he saw, and threw on it.  And then the discussion came in with respect to the ball and its location and the defender who ultimately basically undercut the play and intercepted it at the, in essence, the middle to the front part of the end zone.

Person:  Are you confident it was the right call?

Blakeman:  Yeah, in review, yeah.  I think so.  I’m pleased that…well, two situations. You never like to end the game with some controversy like that on a call, but I’m pleased that our officiating crew got together and communicated and discussed it and, ultimately, I believe we got it right. So that to me is the part that is coming away from it.  I’m pleased that our crew was able to discuss it and make the call right.

Reiss: Is there anything else you want to mention?

Blakeman: Nothing else.

Image: New England Patriots photo

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)