Kraft still rankled by end-of-game calls

Kraft still rankled by end-of-game calls
January 31, 2014, 3:15 pm
(USA Today Sports Images)

NEW YORK – The Patriots lost four regular season games in 2013 and in two of them, end-of-game calls were huge factors.
 
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Friday that he supports the idea of a centralized replay system that could – in theory – clean up some of the game-changing calls that cropped up league-wide this year.
 
“I personally like the idea of centralized (replay),” Kraft said Friday afternoon. “I’m not sure how the league feels. I think games should be standardized and we should have the same people making the calls. We don’t ever want to lose a game based on an interpretation of a rule, correct or not. If we earn (a win), then we should get it. I just don’t want to see it happen because of poor interpretation of the rules. The more it can be disciplined and structured and centralized I would be in support of that.”
 
In the Patriots loss to the Jets, New England was flagged for pushing from behind on a field goal attempt in overtime. Bill Belichick acknowledged he wasn’t clear on the newly-instituted role, having believed that only players starting at the so-called “second level” were banned from pushing. Chris Jones, the player flagged, was on the line of scrimmage and looped behind Will Svitek and began pushing.
 
It remains the only time the infraction’s been called though the NFL acknowledged it happened in other instances.
 
The other end-of-game play that rankled came in Carolina when Rob Gronkowski was interfered with by Panthers’ linebacker Luke Kuechly. The flag flew but was picked up because the pass was ruled uncatchable. Debate as to whether it was uncatchable because of Kuechly pushing Gronkowski raged for days.  
 
“We had two games this year that, at the end of the game some things happened, so think about it – if one of those games went the other way we would have been playing at home in the AFC Championship game,” Kraft pointed out. “Think like that, you want to be sure that whatever calls were made at the end of those two games were the correct calls. I might have my opinion on what was correct I’m not sure I’m completely objective but I’d like to be sure it was done properly because the stakes are so big.
 
Kraft also said he supports the move to some officials being employed year-round.
 
“I would vote (for officials to be full time). Officials can make a big difference in how they call a game,” he explained. “So much hard work and preparation goes in and it’s a year-round job. We only play 16 games before the playoffs if we’re privileged to make it. Half of all our games are (decided by) seven points or less and 25 percent of those games are (decided by) three points or less. So two or three plays or one call can make the difference in a game.”
 
And, in turn, a season.