Peter King on M&M: ‘Denver this weekend has a few too many answers for what New England can do defensively’
|11.22.13 at 12:54 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about Sunday night’s Patriots-Broncos showdown and the controversial ending to Monday night’s Patriots loss to the Panthers.
King said Sunday’s game is more important to the Patriots, who are in danger of finishing out of the top two seeds in the AFC.
“The most important thing at stake the rest of the year is that bye week at the start of the playoffs,” King said. “If you’re the third seed or the fourth seed, that becomes a pretty big deal, in my opinion. It makes you play that first week and everything. Obviously if you’re one of the first two seeds you get that week off.”
The Broncos are coming off a victory over the previously undefeated Chiefs this past Sunday, and they play Kansas City again a week after meeting the Patriots. King said that presents a major challenge, but he’s still going with Denver on Sunday.
“Kansas City, sandwiching this game for Denver, playing them two out of three weeks, I think that makes this a really troublesome game for Denver,” King said. “Even though I like Denver in the game, if I’m looking at this game, the thing that’s the biggest disadvantage is you’re having to face a really good team twice in 15 days, sandwiched around this game. So, I think Denver’s road is tougher. I just think Denver this weekend has a few too many answers for what New England can do defensively.”
The big story in the NFL this week was the controversial finishing to Monday’s game, when the officials picked up a flag thrown for interference on Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly on the game’s final play, giving the Panthers a 24-20 victory.
“Let’s make three points about this,” King said. “No. 1, I think that Clete Blakeman did a very bad job after the play in not explaining what happened. You owe it to the coaches in the game, you owe it to the teams in the game, and you owe it to millions of people watching on TV. All we could do was guess what the crew ruled. That was absurd to not have any idea why they ruled what it is they ruled, but to be less guessing. That’s No. 1.
“No. 2, I thought Gerry Austin in the ESPN booth after the game was delusional. He talked about that play like there was no question the officials ruled it right. While I totally understand why some people thought that the ball was uncatchable and had the opinion they have — everybody is entitled to their own opinion. But the right opinion, in my opinion, was what John Gruden said, which was that, OK, if the ball was uncatchable — which my argument with the uncatchable part of this argument is that an uncatchable ball is something that’s six feet over your head or that is in the second row of the bleachers, or something like that; it’s just way off. It isn’t a ball that if it had fallen to earth would have fallen to earth between one and three feet from your feet. That’s not uncatchable in my opinion.
“Be that as it may, Gruden made the exact right call. He said the reason that this was uncatchable is that Luke Kuechly draped himself all over Rob Gronkowski and made it impossible for him to get back to the ball if it was something that he so chose to do.
“And finally, I’ll just make this point that I think people need to understand — and I understand your kind of outrage at what Dean Blandino said a day later, and all that. But understand this: This was explained to me very, very well by Mike Pereira, who has sat in that [supervisor] chair and now obviously works for Fox. Mike Pereira said when Dean Blandino makes that statement, he is talking to as much as any fan in America, as much as Bill Belichick, as much as anybody, he’s talking to the 120 officials in the National Football League.
“Those officials, if you’re going to make the decision that the call was absolutely a hundred percent wrong, which sometimes the league does announce and does make the statement that this call was wrong, it should have been called the other way. You could tell in the course of this announcement that Dean Blandino was saying, in essence — I’m going to parse his words and read between the lines — this was not a call that we necessarily agreed with, but it’s a judgment call and we can’t say a hundred percent that they were wrong.”
Added King: “One of the things that I’ve learned over the last few weeks is that there is this category when officials get graded called ‘support only.’ In other words, every call that an official makes, every play is graded to see if officials might have missed a call or called one wrong. And if they get graded on a call, on a play, and it’s graded ‘support only,’ it means that the league is not going to downgrade you or give you a negative mark for the play, but the league would have called it a different way now that they’ve had a chance to analyze it.
“I believe strongly that even though Dean Blandino didn’t say this the other day, that that’s exactly what he was saying, that we don’t agree with this call, but it’s not so egregious that we’re going to grade our officials down for it.”