FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The fans didn’t like it.
The home team didn’t, either. The visitors?
Well, they thought the officials made the right call in keeping the flags in their pockets late in the fourth quarter when New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s fourth-and-goal pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski fell incomplete, despite Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor being engaged in coverage.
“Oh, yeah, I know I didn’t,” Chancellor told reporters after the game when asked if he did anything wrong. “I was going backwards. I was getting pushed the whole time, so I was never really worried about a flag.”
The non-call sealed a goal line stand, turned the ball over on downs, and allowed the Seahawks to preserve their 31-24 victory against the Patriots.
With 14 seconds left in the game and New England at the 1-yard line and trailing by a touchdown, Gronkowski motioned out to the far left with Chancellor following in man-to-man coverage. Brady snapped the ball and lofted a fade to the corner of the end zone.
While the ball was in the air, Gronkowski appeared to initiate contact and launch both his hands forward, pushing Chancellor backward. Chancellor tumbled, and as he fell, made further contact with Gronkowski’s arms.
The ball fell incomplete, prompting boos from the home crowd and appeals to the officiating crew by Gronkowski and Brady.
“(Gronkowski) tried to bulldoze him and you just can’t bulldoze him,” Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said after the game. “We are entitled to our ground, and I think Kam played it as good as you can play it.”
Of course, opinions vary.
Just a few hundred feet down the corridor here at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots recalled the play differently.
“I mean, it didn’t get called,” Gronkowski said afterward. “It is what it is. If it’s not a (pass interference) to the refs, then it’s not a (pass interference) to the refs. The play is what it is, you can’t really change it.”
Gronkowski added that he “wasn’t trying to initiate contact actually,” but that “it just happened.”
“I just went up to him and just tried to get on top of his toes,” he continued. “That’s what you’re taught, to get on top of the toes, make a little move and release outside. I just got up on his toes a little too much, obviously. I wasn’t trying to make contact. I was just trying to make a move and get outside and catch a fade ball.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick would only call it a “really competitive play."
“I didn’t see it,” Brady said in his post-game press conference. “I mean, there was a lot of – there’s always a lot of contact with that team. Sometimes you get the call. Sometimes you don’t.”
Follow Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes.
Copyright 2016 KING