Panthers debacle nothing like 2001's Tuck Rule

Panthers debacle nothing like 2001's Tuck Rule
November 23, 2013, 1:00 pm
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By now you’ve seen or heard about it more times than you probably care to. Carolina Panthers Linebacker Luke Kuechly panics while covering Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski and affixes himself to Gronk like a face hugger from the Aliens movies.  It denied the Pats tight end a chance to make a play on a pass that Panthers Safety Robert Lester then intercepts to seal a Panthers win, ending their back and forth Monday Night Football show down .  A flag was thrown and then inexplicably un-thrown.  Unless you’re a Patriots hater or a talk show host it was clearly a miscarriage of NFL justice.

But of course, shortly after Clete Blakeman announced “ There is no flag on the play. The game is over.” and scurried off the field like a frightened kitten, it began once again.

The Tuck Rule bitching.

As is the case whenever a close or non-call goes against the Patriots, the internet instantly floods with scores and scores of humanoids bashing their cloven hooves against their keyboards. Overflowing with glee, they extoled the virtues of Blakeman and company’s incompetence as payback and karmic retribution for the Tuck Rule call Walt Coleman’s crew made during the divisional round of the 2001 NFL playoffs against the Oakland Raiders.  

I know it’s tough not being a New England sports fan.  For the past decade plus, Boston/New England sports franchises have been more dynastic than ancient Rome.  While I understand that being a subject under the reign of Pax Bostonia probably isn’t the easiest thing to swallow, it shouldn’t force fans to devolve to a level of troglodytic stupidity normally reserved for 9/11 Truthers and Jets fans.

Now normally, I don’t have the time or the desire to explain something this obvious to people who are as fundamentally unsuited to logical reasoning as they are to bipedal locomotion.  But I believe in being benevolent ruler of the sports world and its subjects so please grab an adult to help you with the hard words as I break reality down for you one more time.

First of all, this call wasn’t “karma”.  Have your adult Google karma for you.  Karma takes effect after reincarnation.  For an example, in his next life Clete Blakeman will probably come back to this earth as a dung beetle based on the call Monday night and his full time job as a personal injury lawyer.   

Second. The Tuck Rule was called and enforced correctly after replay, and at the time of the incident, Coleman had the professional wherewithal to explain it adequately.   

The flip flop of the pass inference last Monday was correctly called and then reversed. Why is up for debate but the officials on the field lacking the courage to make a difficult call against a home team at a pivotal point in the game seems like a more than plausible explanation.

Kuechly draping himself all over Gronkowski was pass interference, which is why the back judge flagged it.  Almost on a weekly basis in Roger Goodell’s offensively enhanced NFL we see pass interference called on receivers coming back through a defender not looking at the ball on underthrown passes they have no chance of catching using our universes current laws of physics.  The ball Tom Brady threw to Gronk would have been marginally catchable if he wasn’t wearing Kuechly like a Teal and Silver snuggie.  I still think that Lestar ultimately would be more successful making a play on the ball than Gronk would have, but it was not clearly uncatchable, as the NFL rule book states it has to be to excuse interference.

Uncatchibility was the best that Blakeman and his merry band of replacement level officials could come up with.  But this was only after they sprinted off the field like Blakeman heard an ambulance siren and then huddled in seclusion around a TV monitor trying to concoct their alibi for the pool reporters.  And they still got it wrong.  

The “simultaneous contact” theory fans got from NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino later in the week was also equally erroneous as it was clear  the interference on Gronkowski began before the ball arrived.

But despite the facts, a segment of fans continue to revel in Tuck Rule retribution. But as luck would have it, there is a tangential connection between the tuck rule and a late game pass interference call against Luke Kuechly and the Carolina Panthers: The aforementioned Walt Coleman.

It was during a week 2 Bills Panthers game that Coleman’s crew called Kuechly for pass interference as he once again panicked in coverage and got deliberately handsy late in the 4th quarter.  On a 3rd and 6 with 21 seconds left, Kuechly wrapped up Bills WR Stevie Johnson on his route down the middle which allowed Colin Jones to intercept the EJ Manuel offering. Coleman’s professional and by the book enforcement of Kuechly’s infraction leads to the game winning score for the Bills.  So not only did Coleman correctly make the call on a similar play of enormous magnitude in an almost identical in game situation, but he did it in favor of a team from Buffalo, which given that towns cosmic predisposition (ask your adult for help) to choking, adds a degree of difficulty that only theoretical mathematicians could calculate.

But despite my demonstration of indisputable facts that a clear miscarriage of NFL justice has taken place, it’s obvious that Patriots/Boston haters will continue to pay homage to graven images of Ben Dreith and indulge in Schadenfreudian orgies any time some type of calamity, just or not, falls upon one of the local teams.   

But as the past year has proven, the resiliency of this town, its people and its sports franchises are never in question. So, like the Jim Joyce call against the Red Sox, the Celtics win over Utah, or Tomas Kaberle’s tenure as a Bruin, the Empire of Boston will just put this unfortunate incident behind it and carry on much like our Roman forbearers.  Except instead of chariots, our Triumphs have Duck Boats.