Luke Kuechly was clearly holding Rob Gronkowski on the final play of the game on Monday night. Whether the contact was a penalty, though, is an entirely different beast.
Officials initially threw a flag on the play but picked it up soon after, claiming that the pass, which was intercepted by safety Robert Lester, had been deemed uncatchable. The non-call stirred up some controversy after the game, even inciting Tom Brady to berate officials as they walked off the field, but Gronkowski wasn’t feeding into the frenzy.
“We don’t make excuses,” Gronkowski said, via the Boston Herald. “I’m not trying to sit here and make an excuse that he held me at the end of the game. The game is four quarters long. It’s won throughout all four quarters, not just the last play of the game. We’ve just got to keep working hard, keep sticking together and keep on fighting.”
The Patriots did squander a few key opportunities ahead of that final drive that could have turned the tides of the 24-20 loss. Stevan Ridley‘s red zone fumble in the first quarter cost the Patriots at least three points, maybe seven, and some questionable play calling on a third-and-1 from inside the 10 late in the fourth quarter didn’t help matters either. Convert on one or both of those situations and the Patriots probably aren’t relying on the officials to save their skin on that final drive.
Gronkowski is clearly taking a mature approach to the situation, exhibiting the type of accountability that Bill Belichick and the Patriots typically preach. Even if the penalty should have been assessed, Gronkowski has the right attitude about it. The Patriots missed out on other opportunities throughout the night, and they shouldn’t be focusing in on just one play as the reason for the loss.