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NFL referees reminded to explain their decisions to coaches

Monday night's showdown between the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers ended in controversial fashion after the officials picked up a flag on an apparent defensive penalty on the game's final play, allowing the Panthers to sneak away with a 24-20 victory.

Part of the confusion after the game stemmed from the lack of an explanation from referee Clete Blakeman as to why there was no penalty on Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly, who appeared to interfere with Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski in the end zone.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday, citing league sources, that referees were reminded this week that the reason the flag was picked up should have been announced to the crowd. In addition, Rapoport reported that officiating supervisors -- there's one at each game -- were told if a situation like the one at the end of the Panthers' win arises again, in which coaches were not informed why a flag was picked up, supervisors must go into the locker room and offer coaches an explanation.

Dean Blandino, the NFL's vice president of officiating, told NFL Network on Tuesday that Monday's final play came down to a judgment call in which officials determined Kuechly's "restriction" of Gronkowski occurred simultaneously to the ball being intercepted by safety Robert Lester.

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