Patriots-Panthers Live: Carolina Wins 24-20 After Officials Pick Up Flag on Game-Ending Pass Interference


PatriotsFinal, Panthers 24-20: The game ended on an interception. But it’s so much more complicated than that.

A flag was thrown on the play because Luke Kuechly held and pushed Rob Gronkowski out of the end zone. But since the interception was in the front of the end zone, the flag was picked up with no explanation.

Neither team can feel bad after this game. Both teams played very well. It came down to the last possible second and the Patriots have a solid argument they should have had another play.

That’ll do it for the live blog. Stay on for some postgame content.

Update: Here’s a look at some of what we have after that controversial finish.

Check out the non-call on Gronkowski, and Tom Brady’s response (he was none too pleased and let the refs know it). The referees also gave an official explanation afterward. While the Patriots aren’t happy with how this one ended, though, they had their opportunities beforehand and didn’t get it done.

Also, check out what Steve Smith had to say about Aqib Talib after the two jostled all night.

Finally, the loss shouldn’t overshadow progress by the Patriots, most notably Shane Vereen looking good in his return and Brady being back to form.

Fourth quarter, :59, Panthers 24-20: After a huge holding call on Devin McCourty — that looked semi-questionable — Kyle Arrington missed a tackle, allowing Ted Ginn to score.

It was another marathon drive for the Panthers, though it wasn’t quite long enough. Carolina gave New England 59 seconds. We’ll see what happens here.

Fourth quarter, 6:36, Patriots 20-17: The Patriots have their first lead of the game. Blount continues to get tough yards and Shane Vereen has been huge on third down.

The Patriots went for the TD on third down, but Brady had to throw the ball away. At third-and-1, it probably would have made more sense to see a Blount or Brady carry.

Fourth quarter, 11:01, 17-17: Short drive there by the Panthers. The Patriots have a short field after Carolina had to kick into the wind.

Rob Ninkovich got a sack and Logan Ryan broke up a Cam Newton pass.

Fourth quarter, 12:33, 17-17: What a game.

The Patriots responded quickly. Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Shane Vereen were key on that drive.

Ridley took it in for the score. Good thing they didn’t keep that guy on the bench for long.

The Patriots needed to score quickly and they did just that. The Panthers are great at running the ball, but they can’t hold onto it for over 12 minutes.

End third quarter, Panthers 17-10: This game is racing by. We’re already in the fourth quarter. The Patriots may have just two drives left the way the Panthers are holding onto the ball.

Stevan Ridley is back in the game after getting benched for fumbling.

Third quarter, 2:10, Panthers 17-10: After an epically long drive from Carolina (over eight minutes), Newton hit Greg Olsen for seven.

The best play of the drive was on an insane scramble by Cam. He broke three tackles in the backfield, then picked up the first down. Steve Smith continues to abuse Aqib Talib a bit.

The Patriots’ defense has to do a better job of limiting Carolina’s run defense next drive. The Patriots can’t afford another eight minute drive.

Third quarter, 10:31, 10-10: Apparently the Patriots made some halftime adjustments (one of them was Belichick throwing on a hoodie, as my fiancee noticed).

LeGarrette Blount, Shane Vereen and Julian Edelman all made big plays. Rob Gronkowski caught the drive-clincher and powered his way into the end zone.

We’re all tied up at 10-10 now.

End half, Panthers 10-3: Carolina couldn’t get anything going with just over a minute remaining.

The half ended on a sack by Chandler Jones. That’s 9 1/2 for the second-year player.

Second quarter, 1:09, Panthers 10-3: Hey, the Patriots have points.

LeGarrette Blount and Shane Vereen helped the Patriots drive the ball down the field. Logan Mankins pushed them back 15 yards with a penalty.

Stephen Gostkowski drove it through on fourth-and-8 for three. The Patriots’ offense has looked pretty good, they just can’t close.

Second quarter, 5:16, Panthers 10-0: It looked like the Patriots had forced Carolina to punt, then Talib was called for holding on Smith. Talib’s having a rough go so far.

Kyle Arrington had some key plays, one a run stop and one a big pass breakup on third down that forced the Panthers to kick.

Carolina has a 10-0 lead with a little more than five minutes to go in the half. Carolina still hasn’t given up a first-quarter touchdown.

Second quarter, 11:03, Panthers 7-0: Stevan Ridley finally seemed to earn the trust of both Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ fans. Then he fumbled the ball away as New England was driving toward the end zone in the red zone.

Ridley may procure himself a seat on the bench after that one, especially with Vereen back. The Panthers have the ball at their own 13-yard line.

End first quarter, Panthers 7-0: So far, this game has been far more interesting than last night’s game.

The Patriots are moving the ball again. Amendola is already having a big game, picking up three first downs. Ridley ended the quarter on an impressive first-down run.

First quarter, 2:44, Panthers 7-0: The Patriots’ defense didn’t look quite so hot on that drive. And Aqib Talib didn’t help the team much by getting called for a 15-yard penalty for failing to let go of Steve Smith’s leg after a reception.

The Panthers scored on a Brandon LaFell touchdown. Smith caught a deep ball over Talib earlier in the drive.

Talib and Smith got into it near the goal line, as well. Talib needs to calm down or else he could get ejected.

First quarter, 8:29: The Patriots’ offense was moving the ball down the field pretty well, then Carolina’s pass rush got involved, Brady got sacked and the Patriots had to punt.

Shane Vereen isn’t exactly being eased into the offense. He was sharing reps with Stevan Ridley in the backfield.

No score in Carolina.

First quarter, 13:00: The first drive couldn’t have gone better for the Patriots’ defense. Brandon Spikes had a big run stop, Newton scrambles for little yardage, then Aqib Talib had a big pass breakup.

First quarter, 15:00: The Patriots won the toss and chose to defer.

8:38 p.m.: Vince Wilfork is on the sideline for the Patriots, per various reports on Twitter. He has a walking boot on.

We’re supposedly two minutes from kickoff.

8:22 p.m.: We’re getting closer here. I’m predicting a Patriots win tonight, even without Alfonzo Dennard and Steve Gregory.

Isaac Sopoaga and Rob Ninkovich could play a big role tonight against the run. Aqib Talib and Devin McCourty are enough to shore up the pass defense.

Danny Amendola is a key player on offense. Tom Brady will need to get rid of the ball quickly and Amendola can get open on short routes.

8:05 p.m.: Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports Shane Vereen is wearing a black sleeve on his left wrist. He’s been wearing that at practice, as well. Rob Gronkowski has his black arm brace on, as per usual.

7:18 p.m.: Shane Vereen and Aqib Talib are active tonight.

The Patriots’ inactives are Steve Beauharnais, Alfonzo Dennard, Steve Gregory, Brandon Bolden, Chris Barker, Jake Bequette and Leon Washington.

Bolden is a bit of a surprise since he was taken off the injury report on Saturday. That in itself was a bit of a surprise since his running backs coach Ivan Fears had told the media that Bolden was banged up and that it would be nice to get him some rest when Vereen comes back.

Josh Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins are active after being inactive last week. Josh Kline gets a spot on the active roster over Barker.

7:06 p.m.He’s back:

6:55 p.m.The Patriots have started their pregame warmups on the Bank of America Stadium field.

Aqib Talib has not been spotted yet.

6:18 p.m.We’re just under 2 1/2 hours from kickoff now. It seems the Patriots’ 10th game of the season may never come.

Here are some of the top matchups we’ll see in Carolina tonight.

It will be interesting to see how Shane Vereen is utilized after missing eight games. He is expected to be eased into New England’s offense. That may mean he only plays on third downs.

4:21 p.m.Shane Vereen is set to make his triumphant return to the Patriots’ offense. The third-down back has been activated off short-term injured reserve. He is probable for tonight’s game.

Vereen broke his wrist Week 1 against the Bills.

8 a.m. ET: It’s been a long wait for the Patriots since they beat the Steelers 55-31 on Nov. 3.

It’s been so long, in fact, that some teams have played three games since New England last suited up. Despite the 15-day rest, Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense need to pick up where they left off at Gillette Stadium against Pittsburgh.

That win was the first truly vintage performance of the season by Brady. It certainly helped that Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola looked fully healthy and Aaron Dobson appears to have taken a huge leap forward since the rookie’s season began.

New England should have Shane Vereen back against the Panthers, though it may not be announced until the 4 p.m. deadline for the Patriots to fill their 53-man roster. New England does not need to make a move to activate Vereen since the Patriots have just 52 players on the active roster.

The Patriots will be without Alfonzo Dennard, Steve Gregory and Leon Washington. We’ll get the last four inactives around 7:10 p.m. Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon will fill in for Dennard and Gregory. Washington has been active for just one game this season.

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