Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly clearly made contact with tight end Rob Gronkowski on the final play of the game in the end zone. A penalty flag was thrown, but then picked up after a discussion. Blakeman believes that Tom Brady's final pass was uncatchable.
"There were two officials that came in," Blakeman said, via a pool report transcript distributed to the media. "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."
Replays appear to prove Blakeman wrong. Kuechly made contact before the interception. Blakeman was asked if he believes he made the right call after watching the replays.
"Yeah, in review, yeah. I think so," he said. "I'm pleased that ... well, two situations. You never like to end the game with some controversy like that on a call, but I'm pleased that our officiating crew got together and communicated and discussed it and, ultimately, I believe we got it right. So that to me is the part that is coming away from it. I'm pleased that our crew was able to discuss it and make the call right."
Reasonable minds disagree. Fox Sports analyst and former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira believes there was clear contact before the interception and the officials should have stuck with the penalty call. NBC officiating analyst Jim Daopoulos also believes the officials made the wrong call. He believes the ball was catchable.
Gronkowski didn't appear to have a chance to "sit down" on his route or move back to the underthrown ball because he was being held. The ball obviously was in play. Gronkowski was careful to make no excuses after the game, offering no opinion to reporters about the call.
Brady, after giving Blakeman an earful in the tunnel immediately after the game, largely blamed his bad throw for the incompletion when he spoke to the media.
It's worth noting that the Patriots fumbled inside the 10-yard line in the first half, and failed to convert a third-and-1 inside the 10-yard line late in the game. Cam Newton played outstanding and deserved to win.
The Patriots wasted chances and would not have necessarily won if the officials called pass interference. They would have had the ball at the 1-yard line, with one play left to decide the game.
That play would have been a lot of fun to see.