In The Red Zone – November 20

In the Red Zone

I made a comment this morning, after Monday night's disappointing New England Patriots 24-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers, that I think their record should read 7-2-1. That’s 7 wins, 2 losses and 1 poor decision by the officials. 

While we aren’t sure what would have happened if the flag wasn’t picked up Monday night we do know this the Patriots would have had one more play from either the Carolina 13 or from the Carolina 1 yard line.  After that it was up to Tom Brady.

But as fans not only of the team but football fans we were robbed of that it must be the worst explanation of a picked up flag in the history of football.

The game referee, “cross-eyed” Clete Blakeman said this when questioned by two pool reporters after the game:

“There were two officials that came in. One was the umpire and the other one was our side judge and there was a discussion at that point as to the, in essence, the catchability of the ball due to its location. So it was determined at that point in time that when the primary contact occurred on the tight end that the ball, in essence, was coming in underthrown and in essence it was immediate at that point intercepted at the front end of the end zone. So there was a determination that, in essence, uncatchability, that the ball was intercepted at or about the same time the primary contact against the receiver occurred.”

I am not so sure it was interference, as you’d have to be able to prove TE Rob Gronkowski could have caught the ball and that to me is just too subjective.  But what the officials failed to consider was defensive holding, a five-yard penalty and automatic first down.

Defensive holding can happen anywhere on the field after the first five yards from scrimmage.  The person being held does not need to be the intended receiver or even anywhere near the ball.

This is from ESPN Boston:

“Here from the NFL rulebook: ‘It is defensive holding if a player grasps an eligible offensive player (or his jersey) with his hands, or extends an arm or arms to cut off or encircle him.’ Rob Gronkowski was grabbed as the pass was thrown – holding should have been called.”

What LB Luke Kuechly did on Monday night was in my eyes defensive holding.  So what I want to know is why didn’t the officials see it that way?

And then why was there no on field explanation? If Ed Hochuli refereed that game we’d still be listening to the explanation of why the flag was picked up.

Flag or lack of flag aside this game was winnable way before the games final play. The New England defense is so decimated you’re counting on CB Kyle Arrington and CB Marquice Cole to make plays in crunch time, same with S Nate Ebner who before this game hadn’t played a defensive snap all season.

I will say this I admire the fight in this team and that fact the Gronk said, “we don’t make excuses.”

There needs to be more consistent play on both sides of the ball and on the offensive side that comes down to Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels being on the same page and using their strengths.

When you have two backs running the ball down the throat of the Carolina defense in Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount you need to let one of them run the ball on 3rd and one.  The Panthers pass rush was too much for the offensive line at times last night but when the Patriots ran the ball they did so with authority.

Blount and Ridley ran the ball a combined 23 times (team total was 25 rushes) and each was effective.  In a possession, time management, long grinding drive type of game you need to run and Monday night New England threw the ball 40 times to 25 rushing attempts.  For informational purposes Carolina ran the ball 23 times and passed 28 times.

If I was McDaniels I give Blount and Ridley the ball a few more times and let them go.

Now I am going to pull a Bill Belichick put this one behind me and move onto Denver.

Game Notes

The Patriots did not cover the spread (PLUS 2.5) and the teams were UNDER the under/over line of 46.  I missed on both the points and on the under.

I am having a brutal season picking games I am now 3-7 vs. the spread in 2013 and 4 for 10 on calling the under/over.

The overall series is now tied 3-3, which includes one Super Bowl matchup that went New England’s way.

New England is 1-2 at Bank of America Stadium vs. Carolina.

The Patriots failed to force a turnover for the first time in 36 consecutive games.

Since 1994 the Patriots are PLUS 153 in turnover differential best in the NFL by a wide margin.

Since 2010 the Patriots are 24-2 in the second half of the season.

Since 2003 the Patriots have the NFL’s best record at 133-37.  The Indianapolis Colts are second 14 games behind.

Bill Belichick is 3-3 vs. the Panthers in his career.

Overall in his NFL career Belichick is 212-112.  The 212 wins are good for 5th all-time in NFL history.

Ron Rivera is in his 3rd season as an NFL head coach he is 20-22 in the regular season.

He is 1-0 against New England in his career.

This is Tom Brady’s 14th NFL season; he is 3-2 vs. the Panthers in his career including 1-0 in the Super Bowl. He is 63-29 on the road in the regular season.

Overall he is 143-42 as a starting QB and is 17-7 in the playoffs for an overall record of 160-49.

143 regular season career wins are 5th all-time. Dan Marino is 4th with 147.

348 TD passes in his career make him for 5th all-time.

The Patriots Inactives were: S Steve Gregory; RB Brandon Bolden; CB Alfonzo Dennard; RB Leon Washington; LB Steve Beauharnais; OL Chris Barker and DE Jake Bequette.

RB LeGarrette Blount led the Patriots running backs with 49-yards on 10 carries.

RB Shane Vereen had 8 catches for 65-yards to lead the Patriots.  

New England was 5 for 10 for 50% on 3rd down conversions. They were 1 for 1 on 4th down.

The Pats were 2 for 5 in the red zone and 2 for 2 on goal to goal go efficiency.

New England won the time of possession having the ball for 30:46.

Patriots had 28 first downs to 20 for the Panthers.

DE Rob Ninkovich had 9 tackles and 2 sacks to lead the team.

The New England defense allowed Carolina 300 yards of total offense. The Patriots had 390 yards for the game.

The Patriots had 3 sacks and 2 QB hits.

Cam Newton, in his 3rd NFL season, has a 20-22 record.

He is 1-0 vs. New England in his career.

The Panthers were 8 for 11 for 73% on 3rd down conversions.

Carolina was 2 for 2 in the red zone and 1 for 1 on goal to go.

Clete Blakeman was the referee for the game; I originally had John Parry listed.

74,225 attended the game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte NC.  It was cloudy and 59 degrees.

Offensive Player of the Game: Panthers QB Cam Newton was 19 of 28 for 209 yards and 3 TD’s.  He also ran 7 times for 62 yards.

Defensive Player of the Game: Panthers LB Thomas Davis had 17 tackles (10 solo) and 1 tackle for loss.

Next Week

Denver BroncosUp next: Denver Broncos

Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro MA

Date/Time: Sunday November 24 at 8:20 p.m.

TV Network: NBC

Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveMichaelsII