For the second time in two days, all the talk following a thrilling NFL game has centered around the officials.
On Sunday, it was the referee’s decision to penalize 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks for his fourth-quarter hit to the chest/neck region of Saints quarterback Drew Brees, negating a fumble and giving New Orleans a first down in a game it would go on to win 23-20.
The following night, a call the refs chose not to make was the subject of even greater criticism.
With three seconds remaining in Monday night’s Patriots-Panthers matchup and New England trailing 24-20, Tom Brady lofted a throw in the direction of Rob Gronkowski in the end zone. The pass was picked off, but the back judge threw his flag after linebacker Luke Kuechly wrapped Gronkowski in a bear hug. That penalty was then waved off, however, and Clete Blakeman‘s officiating staff trotted off the field without offering an explanation.
Brady was livid after the play, and reaction on postgame shows and social media seemed to largely support the quarterback’s complaints.
Check out a sampling of that reaction in the tweets below.
Just caught the final play of the Patriots-Panthers game. Good no call? http://t.co/j1GCZ6Q0qi—
Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) November 19, 2013
6. Jon Gruden is right. If that's not interference, I'm Kate Moss.—
Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) November 19, 2013
I don't think I've seen such unanimous derision against a call since the Seahawks hail Mary—
Bruce Allen (@bruceallen) November 19, 2013
That game was too good to end like that.—
MikeTirico (@miketirico) November 19, 2013
Only place where uncatchable provisions are specifically made in NFL rule book are for pass interference, not for defensive holding.—
Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) November 19, 2013
The pass was catchable..not illegal contact since ball was in the air...contact on 87 occurs prior to interception. It's a foul and called!—
Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) November 19, 2013
How many "experts" agreed with the call? One (Gerry Austin). How many disagreed? Every other one that I've seen or read. Every single one.—
Dale Arnold (@DaleEArnold) November 19, 2013
To not call anything would have been bad, but picking up the flag made this situation far worse.—
Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) November 19, 2013
Refs picking up the flag there was a little like the World Series obstruction call. Does NFL make refs available to explain it?—
Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) November 19, 2013
My thoughts..Since the flag was thrown they should have stayed with the call. There was clear contact before the ball was intercepted. More.—
Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) November 19, 2013
Randy Scott (@RandyScottESPN) November 19, 2013
Horrible call. Gronk had no chance to come back to the ball.—
Chad Finn (@GlobeChadFinn) November 19, 2013
Wow. That’s a brutal call. That’s a flag—
Shelby C Miller (@ShelbyMiller19) November 19, 2013
I suspect the NFL says officials blew the call. Can't make something like that precedent.—
Doug Kyed (@DougKyedNESN) November 19, 2013