[Note: Before we begin dismantling the "non-call" and show how the Patriots got shafted at the end of the Patriots' 24-20 loss to the Panthers Monday at Carolina, we offer the following disclaimers:]
1. Stevan Ridley's first half fumble cost the Patriots a potential touchdown.
2. The personal foul penalty on Logan "I don't recall punching anyone in the face" Mankins was absurd.
3. The Patriots had no clue what to do when it came to stopping Cam Newton on third down, whether it was via a game plan or actual physical execution.
4. The decision throw into Section 140 on 3rd and 1 on New England's final scoring drive and the settling for a field goal, instead of running it once or twice to get the first down, will hang on Josh McDaniels until the entire internet is erased.
5. The Panthers were able to devour the clock and dominate the line of scrimmage during their crushing, 81-yard drive, 8:21 drive that gave them the eventual margin of victory.
6. Tom Brady and his teammates were not offering any excuses. As Brady said of his last pass, "it wasn't a great throw. There were no excuses. We had plenty of chances. We shot ourselves in the foot too many times."
Whew, glad that's out of the way.
OK, so no excuses here.
Monday night, the refs picked up the flag and dropped the ball.
And after shooting themselves in the foot, the Patriots got the shaft in the end.
Watch this 1 million times and it doesn't change:
Rob Gronkowski gets man-crushed and love-hugged by Panthers linebacker and former Boston College standout Luke Kuechly as Robert Lester is left wide-open to pick off Brady's pass at the end of Monday night's frustrating defeat.
The flag was thrown, then picked up. The pass was ruled "uncatchable."
Of course it was "uncatchable." Gronkowksi was smothered in the end zone and could not have gotten to that ball if it was a bowl of Gronk Flakes. It's unthinkable to think Gronkowski, who 6-7, 265 or so pounds and had been playing like Mongo all night, could not have made a legitimate attempt on that pass had he not been mauled on the play.
Gronk run. Man hug Gronk. Gronk see flag. Gronk no see flag. Gronk just pawn in game of life.
Kuechly was flat-out lost on the play and came nowhere near close to playing the ball. He had no choice but to go full "Hack-A-Gronk" and hope for the best.
And he got it from the
CFL, XFL, Arena League, WFL, USFL NFL officials who ended the game one play short.
After the game, Brady sought an explanation from the refs as he walked off the field and managed to fire off at least one "f-bomb" before ESPN cut away.
Time to update our list of "The Most Appropriate "F-bombs" of 2013:"
- 4. Comcast Sports Net's Tony Amonte's: "They're going to break the f--king glass" after Game 7 against Toronto.
- 3. Tuukka Rask's: Lay off my iPod "are you f--king kidding me?" quip live from the locker room after Game 3 against the Rangers.
- 2. Brady's incredulous: Post-game "f-bomb" Monday night.
- 1. David Ortiz: "This is our f--king city" last April.
As Gisele might say: "The refs cannot throw the [expletive] flag, then pick up the [expletive] flag and expect my husband to win the game."
Millions of "f-bombs" were detonated across New England and throughout the Twitterverse after the game.
The Patriots are 7-3 and have two losses end with controversial, if not questionable calls/non-calls. The "Push Gate" call against the Jets was the proper call, but the circumstances surrounding it before and after the call did wonders when it came to the NFL's credibility when it came to credibility.
It was like getting a speeding ticket for going 66 MPH in a 65-MPH zone.
Yes, it was against the rules, but when was the last time you saw someone get nailed for that. Never, actually, because that "Push Gate" call hadn't been made before and hasn't been called since.
Monday's "non-call" was infinitely worse.
This was like going being stopped for going 166 MPH in a 65-MPH zone and being given free auto insurance for life.
For one, the "non-call" was flat out wrong. It was "Replacement-Ref" wrong. It was "Are any of these guys related to Tim Donaghy?" wrong. It was "The Tuck Rule Game and Spy Gate Still Don't Justify This" wrong.
And all the "Tuck Rule" and "Spy Gate" karma babble was about as relevant to last night's game as Alexander the Great's invasion of Persia in 334 BC.
Even Fox's Mike Pereira, who is the "Baghdad Bob" of NFL State Run Media apologists, Tweeted "since the flag was thrown they should have stayed with the call. There was clear contact before the ball was intercepted ... You could make a case that the pass might have been uncatachable, but the flag was thrown and you should stay with it."
That's like Jay Carney telling the White House press corps: "Hey, between us, this health care plan sucks."
The NFL's fading credibility took another incredulous hit Monday night. A couple of years ago, the league emerged from an offseason lockout stronger than ever. Since then, the league has been besieged by crises both on and off the field. And each week, the NFL loses a bit more of its legitimacy for a variety of reasons.
We've had lockouts, replacement refs, murders [alleged and otherwise], a national indictment of the "lockerroom culture," key players being lost on surprisingly high rate starting on the first day of training camp, and now, on national TV in the biggest Monday night game of the season thus far, an embarrassingly bad blown "non-call."
The league settled with its former players, who are struggling through horrific, life-long injuries for $750 million to avert an even higher judgment and prolonged set of lawsuits. The 2012 season began with faux officials. In just the past year, one NFL player committed a murder/suicide, another was charged with murder and a third was behind the wheel and charged with DUI manslaugher after fatal crash that killed a teammate. Former players and current broadcasters have said they don't want their kids playing the game and Richie Incognito did something with Jonathan Martin that has sent the cultural universe off its axis.
On the field, defenders are being stripped of their ability to defend and rule changes have forced tacklers to go for the lower extremities, causing a slew of season-ending knee and hip injuries.
And, as the world saw on ESPN Monday night, when a defender does commit a legitimate penalty that cost the Patriots a shot at winning the game, the flag is thrown and then picked up.
Again, to their credit, none of the Patriots players voiced any trepidation about the "non-call" after Monday night's loss. They blamed themselves and gave well-deserved credit to Newton and the Panthers.
But when there was some audio feedback during Bill Belichick's postgame press conference, viewers and reporters could have been excused if they thought that was the alarm that sounds right before a Hoodie explodes.
The Patriots went from the inside track to a first-round bye and home-field advantage for at least one playoff game to coming off a tough road loss with a short week to prepare for Peyton Manning, [maybe] Wes Welker and Denver Sunday night in Foxborough.
Given the issues New England's secondary had Monday, especially with Aqib Talib getting out-everythinged by Steve Smith, the Patriots may need the refs running interference for them for 60 minutes if they hope to slow down the 9-1 Broncos.
It would be the very least the officials could after Monday night.
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