CHARLOTTE -- For the second time this season, the Patriots lost a game in which an official's controversial call -- or non-call in this case -- late in the game made headlines.
A throw from Tom Brady to tight end Rob Gronkowski was intercepted as time expired in regulation, though Gronkowski appeared to be severely held by Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly. The Patriots lost the game 24-20.
A flag was thrown on the play, but after conferring with his group of officials, referee Clete Blakeman announced that there was not a penalty, waving off the flag and ending the game.
Gronkowski was asked if he felt he was held on the play. "I've got to re-watch, but if you saw that, then I would say yeah," he said.
He later added, "It just wasn't completed and there was no flag. There was a flag, but it got called back. I don't even know why they threw it and there's just no excuse. I'm not trying to be here to make excuses, they're a good football team, they scored more points than us and they beat us straight up."
"It is how it is now, and they took the call back and can't do anything about it," Gronkowski said. "And that's not when the game is [won] and [lost]. They're a very good team, they played tough all four quarters."
Asked whether or not he said anything to the refs following the play, Gronkowski replied, "When they threw the flag, that's what I thought it was going to be. And it was waved off, so I can't do anything about it."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in his postgame remarks that he did not receive an explanation of the non-call from an official.
"I saw what you saw," he said.