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Ask PFW: The flag that wasn't

The controversial non-call on the final play in the end zone in Carolina on Monday night left Patriots fans with plenty of questions, and emotions, that fill out this short-week edition of Ask PFW.


If as [referee Clete] Blakeman explained, Gronk's distance from the ball rendered the penalty moot, then how going forward can defensive holding or PI be upheld anytime the infraction occurs more than 5 yards from the pass? The explanation just doesn't make sense given any number of such penalties assessed going back for as long as one can remember.
Tony D.

We obviously got a lot of emails regarding the flag thrown and then picked up after the final play in Monday night's loss to the Panthers in Charlotte. My personal opinion is that the officials blew the entire situation. First, I do think that Rob Gronkowski was interfered with, or at the very least held by linebacker Luke Kuechly in the end zone. New England should have had another, untimed play from either the 1 if pass interference was the call or from the 13 if it was holding or illegal contact. Then I had a major problem with the fact that the officials just announced that the game was over and ran off the field without giving an explanation to the fans, the TV audience or the coaches/players. It just wasn't handled very well. Also, I don't buy the pool report explanation by Blakeman that the ball was not catchable. The way I saw it, Gronkowski, Kuechly and Robert Lester, who ended up making the interception, were in essentially the same area until Kuechly physically wrapped up Gronkowski while Lester broke on the ball. Without the hindrance from the linebacker I think Gronkowski has a chance to get his hands on the ball if not catch it. Therefore, he was interfered with. Finally, I do think it was a poor throw from Tom Brady, as he himself admitted afterwards. If that ball is higher and gets further into the end zone I don't see any way that the officials can choose not to call the penalty. But Brady gave the crew a slight out by making the short throw and the officials took it and ran – quietly literally right off the field and into this week's burning NFL controversy. I wouldn't put too much stock in the explanation or that it will be used to discuss future calls.
Andy Hart

Do you think Chandler Jones is being underrated? Heading into the Panthers game he led the NFL D linemen in tackles and had 8.5 sacks.
Moe Smith

I think Jones is having a good but not elite second season. I think he's taken some nice steps forward as a sophomore. He's become the most important member of the Patriots front seven and will be counted on in the coming weeks and months to be a big factor on the defense down the stretch and into the postseason. But I don't think he's at the level where he's a complete game changer and playmaker – as was the case with a guy like J.J. Watt a year ago in his second season. I thought Jones struggled to set the edge in the run a couple weeks ago against the Dolphins. I still think he can become a more consistent force as a pass rusher. In a league that has a lot of good defensive linemen and edge rushers right now, I think Jones is a still a ways away from being near the top of that group. But he looks like he's certainly moving in that direction and I think he has a very bright future ahead of him as a top member of Bill Belichick's defense.
Andy Hart


Alright, what steps are the Patriots taking to negotiate with Minnesota to obtain Adrian Peterson? Everyone in the NFL knows that all WE NEED to continue our dynasty in the NFL is another great running back. The Patriots could WIN 3 out of the next 4 Super Bowls with a back like Peterson. We always have extra draft picks to bargain with and if we have to pay a salary tax, so be it.!!! Peterson has at least 6 good years left and so does Tom Brady. THIS IS A SMART MOVE TO MAKE NOW... BEFORE THE BRONCOS Matchup. We can Win it All This Season.**
Charles Stackpole

Sorry to disappoint you, but the trading deadline has already passed. So there is no chance of Peterson joining the Patriots this season via trade. I'm also not sure that I agree that his addition is what would make New England unbeatable at this point. He's a great player, don't get me wrong. But he's in the next year coming off a truly elite season last fall. And there isn't a lead back in the game that I would project to have six seasons of elite NFL pounding left in him, never mind the fact that I doubt Brady will be elite when he's 42. I just don't see the Patriots sending a huge package of draft picks to the Vikings for Peterson. Certainly it can't/won't happen in time for this Sunday night's kickoff. Sorry.
Andy Hart

Why are the Pats not considering signing Terrell Owens? Is it due to his age or off the field issues in the past? I mean with his size & experience that alone should help our WR core. And yes he's no longer a threat down the field, but in a bunch formation or even slot here & there I think he would b effective. Plus we can get him at a low cost. So what do you guys think?
Darris Robinson

I think I'm surprised that we still get these questions about Owens, who last played in the NFL in 2010. He's about to turn 40 years old. No, I don't think he could help the Patriots right now unless the team is looking to win a body-building competition. Owens is done. I hope he's moved on and I think all his fans should too.
Andy Hart

Hi Paul, I don't understand why [LeGarrette] Blount is returning kickoffs , when they have Boyce with all that speed, sitting? It seems to me giving the chance he could be dangerous. Thank you.
Bruce Gonsalves

Hi Phil, I have to be honest and say that I don't really understand why Blount is returning kickoffs. He's not had really any success this season, the first time he's done it in his career. I expect that Leon Washington might take over whenever he's healthy enough to do so, but I've also wondered with others like Boyce or Edelman haven't been given a chance. It's really borderline inexplicable to me. All Belichick really points to is Blount's history as a productive ball carrier as a running back when asked about the big returners work in the kicking game. We finally saw Boyce on the active roster and back deep against the Panthers, but thanks to five touchback from Graham Gano we never got a chance to see what the rookie can do. Maybe he'll get another shot this week against Denver or maybe Washington will finally be ready to go. Either way, it looks like Blount's unproductive run back deep may finally have come to an end.
Andy Hart


Hey guys, love your weekly column. I have a two-part question this week. First, are you aware if the Patriots are scheduled to wear their throwback uniforms during any of this season's remaining games? Also, I'm going to be attending my first Patriots game in December vs. Cleveland (so excited). What tips do you have for a first timer such as myself to have a memorable first game experience?**
Brent Belliveau
Amherst, Nova Scotia

The Patriots are not going to be wearing throwbacks in any game this season. Sorry. As for the second question, I would definitely plan on getting to the game very early. The parking lots open four hours before kickoff, but you could come even earlier if you wanted to check out Patriot Place and its restaurants. If not, come when the gates open and set yourself up with a good tailgate in the parking lots. That's a part of the full game day experience hear in New England. But if it's too cold or you aren't ready for that, come to one of the many great restaurants at Patriot Place. Enjoy a good meal. Then walk around and take in everything there is to see at this impressive complex. That would include the Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon.
Andy Hart

Hey guys, thank you for keeping us up to date on all things Patriots. The Pats D is doing a great job this season, but already thinking about 2014. Our DTs, if all of them were healthy, will make a great group, but an old one. What are the chances to draft a DT next year?
Lucas Carvalho

Given the age, lack of depth and injury situation at defensive tackle I do think that's a position that could be targeted next May in the draft. It's also a position that can be added to via free agency without a massive investment, as we saw this spring with Tommy Kelly. As well as rookies Joe Vellano and Chris Jones have played, it would probably be a good idea to add a young player with some potential at that spot. It will certainly be one of the many positions worth keeping an eye on in the pre-draft process.
Andy Hart

Love reading your article! My question is a sentimental one: when the Patriots win the Super Bowl this year, do the players like Wilfork, Kelly, Mayo, Vollmer etc. on injured reserve still get rings like the active roster does? Or is it only the 46 players dressed on game day who receive them? I'd hate to see them not receive them due to injury.
Tyler Hallett

Save for a possible rare exception, all players get rings. That includes players on injured reserve, players on the practice squad and guys in other various circumstances. Certainly the guys you mentioned – key core veteran members of this franchise – will get their rings if your prediction comes true!
Andy Hart


Need a little help clarifying something. Why when a player runs out of bounds with the ball will the clock continue to run? I'm specifically thinking of Monday night's game when Ridley had a 13-yard run and went out of bounds with about 12 seconds left in the 1st quarter the clock ran down and the quarter ended?**

On Carolina's final drive with 5:30 left Cam Newton ran for a critical first down on 3rd and long, at the end of the run he ran/was pushed out of bounds. Why didn't the clock stop? With time being so critical it seemed to me a huge error?
Todd Green

The clock only stops when a player goes out of bounds in the final two minutes of the first half and the final five minutes of the game.
Andy Hart

Hey I just noticed heading into week 12 Chandler Jones has 9.5 sacks which puts him in the NFL top 5, so it made me curious who has the Patriots season sack record and how many is it? (I couldn't seem to find it anywhere on the web).
Jacob Templar

New England's single-season sack record belongs to Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett, who had 18.5 sacks in 1984. He also holds the second spot on the all-time list as he notched 16.5 a year later in 1985.
Andy Hart

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