Odds still favorable if penalty stood

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Would the outcome of Monday night's game have changed had officials stuck with the initial pass interference call on the final play of the Carolina Panthers' 24-20 win over the New England Patriots?

According to statistics accumulated by the Elias Sports Bureau, there was anywhere from a 33.3 to 51 percent probability that it could have.

In case you missed it, Carolina rookie Robert Lester intercepted a pass intended for Rob Gronkowski near the back of the end zone on the final play. A flag was thrown for pass interference because linebacker Luke Kuechly was draped all over the New England tight end.

The officials gathered to discuss the penalty and waved off the flag, saying the ball that came up several yards short of Gronkowski was uncatchable.

Even if the penalty had been called and New England was given one more play from the Carolina 1-yard line, the Patriots still needed a touchdown to win.

According to Elias, the Patriots had run 15 plays on first, second or third down from the opponent's 1 this season. They scored five times, which means they had a 33.3 percent probability of pulling out the win if those numbers held true.

Since 2001, teams down four to eight points on the opponent's 1 with five seconds or less remaining scored a touchdown on five of 10 plays, which would have increased New England's probability of scoring to 50 percent.

This season, there have been 101 touchdowns on 198 snaps from the 1 on first, second and third down. That's 51 percent.

So while a pass interference penalty would have added more drama to the finish, it may not have changed the outcome.

Also from Elias, Carolina's Cam Newton became only the second quarterback to throw a go-ahead touchdown pass in the final minute of the fourth quarter against Bill Belichick's Patriots (2000-present).

Newton's game-winning 25-yard pass to Ted Ginn Jr. came with 59 seconds to play.

The only other player to do that against New England during the Belichick era was New York's Eli Manning. He did it twice, in the regular season in 2011 and in Super Bowl XLII on Feb. 3, 2008.

One more interesting statistic: Newton surpassed 10,000 career passing yards in his 42nd career game. He now has 10,099 passing yards and 1,775 rushing yards.

Randall Cunningham is the only other player in league history to have accomplished that feat over a three-season span. He passed for 10,674 yards and ran for 2,187 from 1988 to 1990 at Philadelphia.