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Bill Belichick on last play: ‘I saw the same thing you saw’

11.19.13 at 12:33 am ET
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A bewildered and frustrated Bill Belichick was asked about his reaction to the final play of the game on Monday night, a play in which the back judge threw a flag in the end zone for apparent pass interference as Luke Kuechly held Rob Gronkowski in the back of the end zone.

Belichick he was never told by the officiating crew why the flag was picked up and the game ended with the Patriots losing, 24-20.

Terrence Miles was the back judge who saw the contact and threw the flag but referee Clete Blakeman ruled the pass from Tom Brady “uncatchable” as the pass was intercepted by Robert Lester. Blakeman picked up the flag and pronounced the game over.

‘€œThere was no explanation given to me,” Belichick said. “I saw the same thing you saw.”

Belichick was asked again, no explanation at all?

‘€œNo,” Belichick continued. “The officials ran off the field, and I didn’€™t see anything. I’€™ve gone through that before. The last time I tried asking an official a question about a call, that was the wrong thing to do. So I have no idea.’€

Belichick was asked if he and the team feel they were owed an explanation.

‘€œLike I’€™ve said, we’€™ve been down that road before,” Belichick said. “Didn’€™t get one tonight, didn’€™t get one at the Baltimore game. Guess that’€™s the way we do it.’€

Belichick was referring to the controversial 31-30 loss to the Ravens in Sept. 2012 when Justin Tucker‘s field goal sailed over the right upright but was ruled good by replacement officials on the last play of the game. Belichick went after the officials for an explanation and was reportedly fined $50,000.

That was one day before the infamous Seattle-Green Bay ending in a touchdown for Seattle when it appeared Green Bay had intercepted the pass on the final play of the game.

The next day, the NFL defended the call in the Seattle game. Is Belichick curious about the response here?

‘€œSure. It was the last play of the game, I don’€™t know what happened. There was a flag thrown, and then the game was over. I don’€™t know,’€ Belichick said.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Clete Blakeman, New England Patriots, Robert Lester

Snap Judgments: Panthers escape with 24-20 win over Patriots

11.18.13 at 11:39 pm ET
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The Patriots saw a late lead slip away, as Panthers quarterback Cam Newton led a touchdown drive with just under a minute left in the fourth quarter en route to Carolina’s 24-20 win over the Patriots on Monday night. The Patriots’ effort to respond with a drive of their own stalled out when Tom Brady‘s attempt from the 18-yard-line to find Rob Gronkowski in the end zone was intercepted as time expired. While a flag was thrown on the play — in which Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly appeared to hold Gronkowski in the end zone — the officials ultimately ruled that there was no infraction on the play, preserving the Carolina victory.

“There was no explanation given to me,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick told reporters. “Officials ran off the field.”

Newton found Ted Ginn with what turned out to be the game-winning play, a 25-yard scoring strike to give Carolina a 24-20 lead with 59 seconds left, and ended up hanging on down the stretch for the win, the sixth straight for the Panthers. Newton ended up going 19-for-28 for 209 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. Meanwhile, Brady — who completed 13 in a row at one point after a rough start — ended up 29-for-40 with 296 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

The Patriots had some late life following the Newton-to-Ginn scoring strike. New England got to midfield when Brady found Gronkowski (five catches, 59 yards) on a fourth-down pass play down the middle, a reception where Gronkowski was able to beat Kuechly. Brady followed that up a few plays later with a shot down the middle to Shane Vereen that got the Patriots to the Carolina 25 with six seconds left, where Brady added a quick pass to Aaron Dobson that got them to the 18 for the game’s final play.

Ultimately, it was yet another close one for the Patriots — now, seven of their 10 games have been decided by seven points or fewer, with six of them (including Monday night) ultimately turning in the final minute of action and a seventh going into overtime.

Here are a few quick notes:


‘€¢ Running back Stevan Ridley coughed up the ball in the second quarter, committing the turnover when Carolina’s Kawann Short knocked the ball free. The Patriots were in the red zone and threatening to score for the first time all night when he coughed it up. Ridley did not return to the field for the duration of the first half. It was his third lost fumble of the season.

‘€¢ The Patriots played some really sloppy, undisciplined football in the first half. Aqib Talib went head-to-head with Steve Smith on several occasions, and in the first half, there was plenty of back-and-forth. On Carolina’s second series on its second play from scrimmage, New England brought an extra rusher, and Newton was able to pick it up and deliver a 42-yarder to Smith, who was in man coverage against Talib. Smith and Talib got into it a few plays later when the receiver took exception to the fact that Talib was hanging onto his leg for a few extra seconds after a play was whistled dead. Talib was flagged 15 yards on the play. Talib was flagged for his second penalty of the night later in the first half. As good as he was over the first month-plus, he was pretty bad early against the Panthers.

‘€¢ Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui suffered a knee injury in the first half, and did not return. Cornerback Kyle Arrington also appeared to suffer some sort of right thigh or groin injury in the third quarter. And late in the contest, Talib went down with what the team called a hip injury.


‘€¢ The Patriots were able to score for the first time on their first drive of the second half, when Brady and the offense engineered an eigh-play, 80-yard drive that took 4:29, and ended with a 9-yard pass play from Brady to Gronkowski and included a 12-yard run up the middle from LeGarrette Blount. It was a crisp sequence with no negative plays and seven first downs (a few of them because of penalty) that allowed New England to tie the game.

‘€¢ The return of Shane Vereen (eight catches, 65 yards) provided a huge boost for the New England offense. The back was a go-to guy out of the backfield, picking up several first downs and allowing the Patriots to keep moving the chains at several important moments throughout the contest. He didn’t appear to be limited in any way — he saw extension action throughout the night — and didn’t appear that the wrist injury he suffered in Week 1 hampered him at all. However, he did fail to pull in a perfectly thrown Brady pass deep in Carolina territory on the final drive of the game.

Halftime analysis: Panthers 10, Patriots 3

11.18.13 at 9:57 pm ET
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Two quarters are in the books in Carolina, and the Panthers hold a 10-3 lead.

Here are a few quick notes:

‘€¢ Tom Brady — who is looking to get the ball out as fast as possible against a tough and physical defensive front — is 14-for-17 for 123 yards. Stevan Ridley has nine carries for 33 yards and a fumble, while Danny Amendola has five catches for 34 yards. Meanwhile, Cam Newton is 7-for-12 for 97 yards and a touchdown.

‘€¢ On their second series, the Panthers were able to get a spark early — on the second play from scrimmage, New England brought an extra rusher, and Newton was able to pick it up and deliver a 42-yarder to Steve Smith, who was in man coverage against Aqib Talib. Smith and Talib got into it a few plays later when the receiver took exception to the fact that Talib was hanging onto his leg for a few extra seconds after a play was whistled dead. Talib was flagged 15 yards on the play, and the Panthers kept rolling — Carolina ended up punching the ball into the end zone shortly after that, making it 7-0 on a 9-yard pass play to Brandon LaFell with just under three minutes left in the first half. Read the rest of this entry »

Inactive analysis: Aqib Talib ready to roll, but Brandon Bolden will sit vs. Panthers

11.18.13 at 7:23 pm ET
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The following players have been listed as inactive by the Patriots for Monday’s game against the Panthers: linebacker Steve Beauharnais, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, safety Steve Gregory, offensive lineman Chris Barker, running back Brandon Bolden, defensive lineman Jake Bequette and running back/returner Leon Washington.

Here’s how the decisions will impact what happens on the field:

‘€¢ There are some very surprising aspects to this list, at least from an offensive standpoint: one, rookie receivers Josh Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins are both active. Boyce has been a healthy scratch for four straight games, while Thompkins took a healthy scratch of his own earlier this season. And two, Bolden is inactive. He’s been dealing with a troublesome knee since the summer, and the fact that he’s on the shelf is a chance to get him some time on the sidelines now that Shane Vereen — who was activated earlier in the day on Monday — is now able to give it a go. Look for Vereen to take Bolden’s snaps, as Bolden had been keeping the seat warm for Vereen while the Cal product was on the shelf with a wrist injury he suffered in Week 1 against the Bills.

‘€¢ From a defensive perspective, the biggest news is that cornerback Aqib Talib is good to go for the first time in a month. Talib, who injured his hip in the second half of the win over the Saints on Oct. 13, has been out for the last three games, as well as the bye week.

‘€¢ Meanwhile, Gregory, Dennard and Washington were all downgraded to out prior to Monday. Duron Harmon should see the bulk of playing time in Gregory’s absence. And without Dennard, look for more defensive packages involving rookie Logan Ryan, although the Patriots might be inclined to move Kyle Arrington from his slot position outside (in place of Dennard) and let Ryan take the slot. Something worth keeping an eye on. And Beauharnais, Barker and Bequette are all healthy scratches.

Unlucky Seven: Who will end up sitting against the Panthers?

11.18.13 at 4:52 pm ET
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The Patriots will announce their inactives roughly 90 minutes before kickoff — that will be just after 7 p.m. — but based on how things have shaped up this week, here’s our take on who will likely be sitting for Monday’s game against the Panthers.

Running back/return man Leon Washington: One of three downgraded to out prior to Monday, the veteran has been dogged by ankle and thigh injuries over the course of the season. He’s played in two games to this point.

Safety Steve Gregory: The defensive back suffered a broken thumb in the recent win over the Steelers, and is expected to be on the shelf for another couple of weeks. Duron Harmon should see the bulk of playing time in his absence.

Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard: Like Washington and Gregory, he was designated inactive prior to Monday. Look for more defensive packages involving rookie Logan Ryan, although the Patriots might be inclined to move Kyle Arrington from his slot position outside (in place of Dennard) and let Ryan take the slot. Something worth keeping an eye on.

Wide receiver Josh Boyce: Headed for a redshirt year. If he is a healthy scratch, this will mark his fifth straight game on the sidelines. (Depending on how confident the Patriots are in the state of Shane Vereen‘s wrist, Brandon Bolden also might be a possible scratch. Not saying Vereen won’t start — just wonder how much he’ll be able to go in his first action since Week 1.)

Offensive lineman Chris Barker: Like Boyce, it seems like Barker is going to essentially spend his first season with the Patriots as a redshirt. He’s been inactive — a healthy scratch — for six games to this point in the season.

Linebacker Steve Beauharnais: if there’s a defensive counterpoint to Barker and Boyce, it might be Beauharnais, a rookie linebacker who has already taken several healthy scratches to this point in the season. (Depending

Defensive end Jake Bequette: The return of Andre Carter and the development of Michael Buchanan seem to have pushed Bequette down the depth chart.

Shane Vereen probable for Monday night after being activated from IR

11.18.13 at 4:20 pm ET
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The Patriots have officially activated running back Shane Vereen. He is listed as probable for Monday night’s game against the Panthers.

Vereen has been on injured reserve since breaking his wrist in the Patriots’ Week 1 win over Buffalo. In that game, he registered 101 rushing yards and 58 receiving yards.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier on Monday that the Patriots’ plan will be to “ease” Vereen back into the gameplan.

Read More: Shane Vereen,

Heath Evans on M&M: Monday’s game more important for Panthers than Patriots

11.18.13 at 2:40 pm ET
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Former Patriot Heath Evans joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to talk about New England’€™s matchup with the Panthers and his take on the bullying scandal in Miami.

Monday’€™s game is a surprisingly good matchup as quarterback Cam Newton has led his team a 6-3 start to the season. With the Saints winning on Sunday, Carolina moved to 1½ games behind New Orleans in the NFC South.

‘€œI think this is definitely more important for the Carolina Panthers, and [coach] Ron Rivera,’€ said Evans, who works with the NFL Network and the NFL on Fox.

Newton has played well this season, but the reason for the turnaround from a 7-9 record in 2012 revolves around the strong play of the Panthers defense. Second-year pro and Boston College product Luke Kuechly leads the team from his middle linebacker position. Evans compared Kuechly to former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

‘€œLuke Kuechly, and I think Tedy would probably agree with me, is more physically gifted than Tedy,’€ Evans said. ‘€œThis kid just gets it. ‘€¦ There’€™s literally not a weak point to this kid’€™s game, and it’€™s just going to get a lot better.’€

New England ran the ball during its last game against the Steelers, but achieving the same level of success against Kuechly and the Panthers’€™ impressive defensive line will be a daunting task.

‘€œYou’€™ve got a lot of pieces here where, if you can run the ball, this offense can grow into a Patriots offense that we’€™ve never even seen before that could maybe even be more spectacular than what we’€™ve seen in the past,’€ Evans said.

Evans, a member of the Dolphins in 2005, took on the issue of the Jonathan MartinRichie Incognito bullying saga.

‘€œJonathan Martin, if you’€™re having mental issues, and you have to step away from the team, what are you doing at a Stanford game the other night, on national TV in front of hundreds of thousands of people?’€ Evans said. ‘€œWhen everything that will be exposed is exposed, I’€™m sure we’€™re probably going to see Jonathan Martin in a different light, we’€™ll probably see Richie Incognito in a different light, so to speak.’€

To hear the full interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at

Read More: Cam Newton, Heath Evans, Jonathan Martin, Luke Kuechly



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