Carolina loss still stings for Brady

Pawtucket Times - - SPORTS - By KYLE HIGHTOWER As­so­ci­ated Press

FOXBORO — To say that Tom Brady was un­happy about what tran­spired at the end of New Eng­land's 2013 loss at Carolina would be an huge un­der­state­ment.

Cam New­ton had just led the Pan­thers on an 83-yard touch­down drive to put his team in front 24-20 with 59 sec­onds to play. But Brady came right back, and marched the Pa­tri­ots to the Carolina 18 with 3 sec­onds left.

Brady dropped back on the game's fi­nal play and lofted a pass into the end zone in the di­rec­tion of Rob Gronkowski as time ex­pired. Carolina line­backer Luke Kuechly was cov­er­ing the tight end, and never turned to­ward the ball. But he reached out and bear-hugged Gronkowski — tak­ing him out of the play.

A flag was thrown for pass in­ter­fer­ence. But af­ter a brief dis­cus­sion among of­fi­cials, it was picked up. The ball was deemed un­catch­able by Gronkowski.

“There is no foul on the play,” ref­eree Clete Blake­man an­nounced to cheers from Pan­thers fans and stunned looks from Pa­tri­ots. “The game is over.”

Brady took off his hel­met and chased af­ter of­fi­cials as they walked off the field. Cam­eras picked up the quar­ter­back yelling an ex­ple­tive as he pleaded his case to deaf ears.

“I wasn't very pos­i­tive. I don't think I said very nice things to him,” Brady re­called Wed­nes­day. “I wish we'd have got­ten that call. It would have been a fun next play, I'll tell you that.”

Sun­day will mark the first meet­ing be­tween the teams since that de­bated fin­ish. Four years have passed, but Kuechly said he knows he likely re­ceived a gift that night from the of­fi­cials.

“I might have got away with one there,” he said. “I'm not even gonna act like I didn't. I might have got away with one.”

Told of Kuechly's com­ments, Brady shrugged.

“Oh, man. Let's re­play that one then, too,” he said. “That was a tough game.”

Brady and the Pa­tri­ots likely won't be in a giv­ing mood this time around, es­pe­cially af­ter they needed a late rally to beat Hous­ton last week .

Sun­day brings in a Pan­thers team that ranks No. 1 in to­tal de­fense de­spite giv­ing up 34 points in last week's loss to New Or­leans.

“Cam's one of the great play­ers in the league and they got a great de­fense,” Brady said. “They run the ball. They've got some good re­ceivers. It's a tough matchup.”

The ros­ters for both teams have un­der­gone sig­nif­i­cant changes since 2013, though sev­eral key play­ers from that fi­nal play still re­main.

Pan­thers coach Ron Rivera said the pas­sage of time should give ev­ery­one a clean slate to work with. But even in vic­tory one les­son he learned from 2013 was that they “left too much time on the clock for Tom Brady.”

Kuechly, who played his col­lege ball at Bos­ton Col­lege, or­di­nar­ily might ex­pect to re­ceive at least a mod­est em­brace from Bos­ton fans dur­ing his re­turn to New Eng­land. Now he's think­ing a hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment is more likely.

“I'm sure some­body will say some­thing to me,” Kuechly said. “But, I've spent some time up there and I know what those fans are like. They love foot­ball ... that'll be funny. We'll see what hap­pens.”

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