Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Last Play Of Panthers-Patriots Game Was Correct ... Except For One Thing

Look, I'm all for cleaning up mistakes in sports.  I like when the refs huddle up to get their various opinions and vantage points to make a correct call.  I like the fact that Major League Baseball is going the extra mile with instant replay.  That the NBA checks late in games who touched a ball last.  I like that.

However, there are some times where doing so really hurts you.

That was last night.  If you missed it, the Panthers beat the Patriots 24-20 with all the chatter coming about the final play.  Sides have been taken and the line has been drawn.  Was Rob Gronkowski interfered with?

Yes.  And no.  And yes.  But should've been no.  But it should've been yes.

Full disclosure: I grew up in Charlotte and was rooting for the Panthers to win that game.  Full disclosure: I'm a Washington Redskins fan and really don't invest too much emotion in the Panthers at all.  If the Panthers lost on that play, you wouldn't get more out of me than a "huh, well that sucked" and I would've thought about my family and friends (many Panther fans) complaints.

The issue here is that this should have been cut and dry.

Gronkowski was interfered with.  To me, the call should have been pass interference since the holding happened as the ball was in the air.  The ball would be moved up to the 1-yard line and we would have seen one untimed down.

However, I do agree that the ball was uncatchable.  The fact that the ball wasn't going to get to Gronk anyway since the ball was intercepted in front of him mattered to the officials and it matters to me.  I don't buy all this that if he wasn't interfered with the ability to make a play on the ball.  He was running full speed to the back of the endzone and I can't see how he would have been able to hit the brakes and stop on a dime to beat the safety to that ball (it wouldn't have mattered to me if he could've broke up the interception since it was the final play of the game).  People don't realize this part of the interference rule normally because it isn't explained when it happens ... and it happens more than you think.

The problem is that the official threw the flag.  Most of those other instances I was referring to the official doesn't throw the flag.  Because the flag was thrown meant that the official felt that he was interfered with.  It was only after conferring with the other officials that ... well ... the ball wouldn't have gotten to Gronk anyway so he really wasn't interfered with.  No explanation was given so Panther fans rejoiced while the rest of the country went to bed confused.

To me, it was about the flag.

If no flag was thrown and the game ended ... would there have been outrage?  Some.  Pats fans and players would still moan about Gronk being held but non-calls like that happen.  The post game explanation given by the refs would've just had the smell of it being the proper call and they knew it all along.

What if the flag was thrown and the penalty called?  No one would will really bat an eye at it.

But the flag was thrown ... admitting it was an infraction ... then picked up.  That happens all the time as well, whether it is an intentional grounding, holding calls and even pass interference calls.

Actually, either of the three examples is fine with me.

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