More than 24 hours had passed since the fateful flag that never was in Carolina, but it was still a hot-button issue by the time Tom Brady joined WEEI's Dennis and Callahan Show on Wednesday morning.
Brady admitted that he was frustrated in the aftermath of Monday night's final play, but he explained that he didn't blame the officials for New England's 24-20 loss to the Panthers.
“As athletes, we have the biggest influence on the game,” Brady said. “You hate for it to come down to a decision that’s out of your hands. It was really one play in the game. And we shouldn’t have really even been in that situation. The most frustrating part is just that we had plenty of opportunities to win that we didn’t take advantage of. So, you hate to come out of the game and blame something that’s out of your control, whether you agree with it or don’t agree with it.
“I’m sure everyone has their own feelings on it. My own personal feeling is yeah, there’s frustration. I was certainly frustrated at the moment it happened. But also going to the locker room and understanding that we really blew the chances that we had, that’s more the overriding factor for me.”
In comments made to pool reporters after the game, referee Clete Blakeman explained that, in essence, Brady's pass to Rob Gronkowski was not a catchable ball. Asked if he had even seen an underthrown ball deemed uncatchable, Brady answered that he had not.
“No, I haven’t. I’m sure there’s a first time for everything,” Brady said. “We get our fair share of calls, and we don’t [get others]. Referees never want to be in that position, either, where they have to make a judgment call like that. They wish it would not come down to that, either, I’m sure, because they don’t want to play that kind of role in the game. They did, that was that situation. They made a call, and then they overturned the call. I guess being in the NFL for as long as I’ve been in, you see kind of everything. It so happened, and we’re going to have to move on."
Brady and the Patriots now have a shortened week with a condensed schedule as they prepare to take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
“You don’t have long to grieve in the NFL," Brady said. "You feel crappy for the flight home, and then you start evaluating what we need to do better. And certainly we’re on to Denver at this point.”
Denver (9-1) has the league's highest-scoring offense in the NFL, averaging 39.8 points per game. The 37-year-old Manning has been its maestro with 3,572 yards, 34 touchdowns and just six interceptions.
“He’s playing great. He’s got some great statistics," Brady said. He obviously has great command. I’ve played against him a lot. He’s always had great statistics and wins. He’s a great player. That’s why he’s one of the best players to ever play the game. Our defense has its work cut out for us. They’ve got a lot of good players, they’re different threats. Peyton has always had a great ability to check to the right play and get his team doing the right thing. These are the games we look forward to. You play the best, you want to see where you match up. We have our chance this weekend.”