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Patriots-Panthers LIVE Blog: Pats Lose 24-20 As Brady Throws Pick On Final Play

By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on the field prior to his team's Monday Night Football game against the Carolina Panthers. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on the field prior to his team’s Monday Night Football game against the Carolina Panthers. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – Follow along for all the updates from the Patriots’ Monday Night showdown with the Carolina Panthers.

FINAL — Panthers 24, Patriots 20: And we have some more controversy at the end of a game for the Patriots.

Tom Brady was picked off on the game’s final play and New England loses just their third game of the season, but this one won’t go down as just a loss.

A flag was thrown on the final play as Brady was looking for covered-up Gronkowski in the end zone. Luke Kuechly had Gronkowski in a bear hub, and a flag was thrown, but it was picked up and no penalty was called. It was explained on ESPN that Brady’s pass was under thrown, and Gronkowski wouldn’t have had a chance to make a catch anyways.

Brady was not too happy walking off the field as he was in search for an explanation. Bill Belichick wasn’t pretty happy either as he took the podium after the game.

“I don’t know what happened,” he said of the last play of the game. “There was a flag thrown, and then the game was over.”

Belichick said he was not given any explanation by the officials.

“There was no explanation given to me… The officials ran off the field and didn’t say anything,” he said. “We’ve been down that road before. Didn’t get one tonight, didn’t get one in the Baltimore game. I guess that’s the way they do it.”

It’s another tough call for the Patriots on the final play of the game, but they’re kind of used to that this season.

We’ll try to sort this one out a little more as we get more information. It’s pretty wild that no explanation was given on the field, especially with it being a clear hold/pass interference. Had no flag been thrown, that is one thing, but there was a flag thrown, and then picked up.

But that one play didn’t lose the Patriots the game. They had plenty of other missed opportunities, from Ridley’s fumble at the Carolina 13 to an odd throw on 3rd-and-one on the Carolina 8-yard line early in the fourth quarter.

The bottom line is the Patriots are now 7-3 on the season and have a short week to get ready for Peyton Manning and the 9-1 Denver Broncos.

4th Quarter, :06: The Patriots will have one final shot at this one at the Carolina 25 after a Brady completion to Vereen.

4th Quarter, 0:40: After Brady counldn’t connect on first, second or third down, he finally gets some time to work and hits Rob Gronkowski for 23 yards to the New England 43.

The Patriots use their first timeout with :40 seconds left.

4th Quarter, 0:59 — Panthers 24, Patriots 20: The Patriots were looking for the sack to knock the Panthers out of field goal range, but Newton found Ted Ginn Jr. open for a 25-yard catch-and-run touchdown.

Kyle Arrington missed bad on Ginn, who also outran McCourty en route to the end zone.

The 13 play drive covered 83 yards in 5:33 for Carolina.

Newton did his part for Carolina, now it’s up to Brady to do his for the Patriots.

4th Quarter, 1:57: The Panthers are threatening as we hit the two-minute warning. Newton has his offense on the New England 27 as they look to tie this one up or take the lead.

The Panthers benefited from a huge holding penalty on Devin McCourty on a 3rd-and-seven, as the safety was whistled for holding on to tight end Greg Olsen. Olsen did a great job selling the penalty, as McCourty hooked him a bit, but Olsen didn’t do much to get out of it.

Aqib Talib is not on the field right now, with Marquice Cole taking his spot at corner.

This should be a very exciting final two minutes.

4th Quarter, 3:11: Cam Newton continues to do damage with his legs on third down.

He picked up a first down on back-to-back third downs on this current drive, rushing for 15 yards on a 3rd-and-six and three yards on a 3rd-and-two.

The Panthers are 8-for-11 on third down tonight.

4th Quarter, 6:32 — Patriots 20, Panthers 17: The golden foot of Stephen Gosktowski gives the Patriots a 20-17 lead in the fourth quarter.

Gostkowski boots a 26-yarder despite a mis-handle by holder Ryan Allen to cap off a nine-play, 31-yard drive that ate up 4:29 of clock.

A steady dose of Blount had the Patriots down to the Carolina 8-yard line, facing a 3rd-and-1. But the Patriots chose to throw it on 3rd down, and the Panthers covered all of Brady’s targets as the QB threw it away out of the end zone.

But the Patriots take their first lead of the game, and the defense will have to keep Newton and company out of the end zone again. 

4th Quarter, 11:01: The defense comes up with the stop they’ve needed all game, forcing a big three-and-out.

After DeAngelo Williams picked up two yards on first down, Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich pressured Newton on second down. Ninkovich brought down the quarterback for his second sack of the evening, and on third down, Newton was nearly picked looking for LaFell in double coverage. Logan Ryan and Devin McCourty were there for the coverage, knocking the pass down to get the Pats’ defense off the field.

Both Edelman and Amendola were back to field the punt, and the Patriots take over on the Carolina 40.

4th Quarter, 12:33 — Patriots 17, Panthers 17: There was that hurry-up we hadn’t seen much of tonight.

After Brady hit Kembrell Thompkins with a 37-yarder down the middle of the field on a nice play fake, he hurried the offense to the line and gave it to Ridley, who took care of the rest.

It was a solid nine-play drive that covered 80 yards in 4:37, tying everything up once again. The Patriots offensive looks as though they’ve figured out the Carolina defense.

Now the Patriots defense needs to come up with a stop.

End 3rd Quarter — Panthers 17, Patriots 10: After three, the Patriots still find themselves down by a touchdown.

Brady was a perfect 7-for-7 in the third quarter, and is 21-for-24 in the game for 180 yards and a touchdown. Newton has 152 yards and a touchdown through the air, and another 44 yards on the ground.

The Panthers defense hasn’t let the Patriots get into their hurry-up offense, but that may change in the final 15 minutes. We’ll see if the Patriots offense, which has played pretty well despite their lack of time on the field, can boost the tempo.

3rd Quarter, 1:20: Stevan Ridley is out of the dog house and back on the field for the Patriots.

3rd Quarter, 2:10 — Panthers 17, Patriots 10: The Panthers answer the Patriots touchdown withe one of their own and take a 17-10 lead late in the third quarter.

Cam Newton was a perfect 7-for-7 on the drive for 55 yards, and found tight end Greg Olsen on a corner route for a 15-yard touchdown. Newton also ran for 15 yards on the drive, picking up a huge first down with his legs on a 3rd-and-seven.

The Patriots can’t seem to get off of the field on third down, with Carolina going 6-for-8 on third down conversions.

The 81-yard drive by Carolina took 8:31 off the clock. The Patriots offense will now take the field for just the fifth time tonight.

3rd Quarter, 7:52: Cam Newton just schooled at least three Patriots’ defenders with his legs, rushing for a first down on a 3rd-and-seven.

Newton scrambled, made a pair of rushing Patriots miss in the backfield, and then went 14 yards to pick up the first down.

Newton is up to 43 rushing yards on four carries.

3rd Quarter, 10:31 — Patriots 10, Panthers 10: Sometimes, all you need is a beautiful 80-yard drive to right the ship.

Brady and company drove down the field using an array of screens to Vereen and power runs by Blount, setting up a nine-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Gronkowski to tie everything up at 10-10. Three Panthers defenders couldn’t keep Gronkowski from finding the end zone, as he powered his way in for the score.

That’s the 40th touchdown Brady has thrown to Gronkowski in his career, the most touchdowns Brady has thrown to one receiver. Gronkowski also becomes the fastest tight end in NFL history to 40 touchdowns, doing so in just 47 games (Antonio Gates

history to score 40 receiving TDs (47 games) passing A. Gates (71 game

That was the first touchdown the Patriots have scored on their first possession of the second half this season.

3rd Quarter, 14:09: The Patriots have started the second half well, collecting back-to-back first downs on their first two plays.

Shane Vereen picked up the first with an 11-yard screen from Brady, followed by LeGarrette Blount rumbling for 12 yards on the next play.

Charles Johnson went down for the Panthers on Blount’s run, a huge loss for the Carolina defense.

Halftime — Panthers 10, Patriots 3: The Patriots couldn’t muster much in the first 30 minutes of football, but only trial the Panthers by a touchdown heading into the locker room.

Stevan Ridley’s fumble was huge, as it took at least three points off the board for the Patriots. Tom Brady finished the half 14-for-17 for 123 yards, with Danny Amendola leading the way with five receptions for 34 yards.

Shane Vereen has been active in his return, catching three passes for 21 yards.

We haven’t seen Ridley since his fumble, with LeGarette Blount taking his spot in the running game. Blount has 14 yards on three carries in place of Ridley.

On defense, the Patriots did not do a great job putting pressure on Cam Newton. But Chandler Jones introduced himself on the last play of the half, so hopefully that is a sign of things to come.

Aqib Talib needs to do a better job keeping his cool against Steve Smith. Smith has gotten the better of that matchup so far, with two receptions for 47 yards (42 of those yards coming on one big reception), but he’s also forced Talib to get two penalties as well.

The Patriots will get the ball back to start the second half.

2nd Quarter, 1:10 — Panthers 10, Patriots 3: The Mankins penalty didn’t hurt, as Brady picked up 16 yards on a 3rd-and-22 pass to Rob Gronkowski — the tight end’s first catch of the game.

The Patriots lined up as though they were going for it on 4th-and-eight, but instead called a time out and let Stephen Gostkowski boot a 42-yarder to make it 10-3 as we approach halftime.

It was a nine-play drive for the Patriots that covered 53-yards in just under four minutes.

2nd Quarter, 2:00: The Patriots are threatening as we hit the 2-minute warning, but another penalty might erase a potential field goal.

Logan Mankins was whistled for unnecessary roughness after a Brady incomplete to Matthew Mulligan, a 15-yard penalty that sent the Patriots back to the Carolina 41. Bill Belichick was not too pleased after finding out what the laundry on the field resulted in.

It’s a windy night in Charlotte and the wind is going against the Patriots right now, so it would be a tough kick for the sure-footed Stephen Gostkowski.

2nd Quarter, 5:06  — Panthers 10, Patriots 0: The Panthers tack on three more points after a 12-play, 62-yard drive, but the Pats have to feel good that it’s only three points.

Cam Newton picked up a first down with his legs, rushing for 24 yards on a 3rd-and-six, but the Patriots played good Red Zone defense when the Panthers got there. Duron Harmon, in for the injured Steve Gregory, had tight end Greg Olsen covered in the end zone on one play, and Kyle Arrington made a nice play on a Newton pass to Ted Ginn Jr. on the ensuing third down.

Talib continues to struggle against Smith though, as he was whistled for a holding penalty on an incomplete to Smith. That kept the drive alive for Carolina, and they’re now up 10-0.

2nd Quarter, 10:17 The Patriots got bailed out by a pair of third down penalties on the Panthers, but Stevan Ridley coughed up a fumble as New England was knocking on the end zone.

Ridley lost the ball at the Carolina 13 as defensive end Kawann Short knocked it loose. That’s Ridley’s third lost fumble of the season, and we likely won’t see him for awhile.

That’s the eighth fumble of Ridley’s career.

End 1st Quarter — Panthers 7, Patriots 0:  The Patriots end the first quarter on a nice 13-yard run by Stevan Ridley into Panthers territory.

Ridley finished the first quarter with 28 yards on five careers, and his last run has Brady and company set up at the Carolina 43.

Brady finished the quarter 8-for-10 for 49 yards, with Danny Amendola coming up with three catches for 18 yards. He had a very big third-down conversion just before Ridley’s big run, running a nice option route in the slot to pick up six yards and move the chains.

1st Quarter, 2:44 — Panthers 7, Patriots 0: The Panthers jump on top first as Brandon LaFell catches a 9-yard touchdown from Cam Newton to cap off a 90-yard scoring drive.

Steve Smith got the better of his matchup with Aqib Talib this time around. Newton connected with Smith for a 42-yard bomb on the second play of the drive, and hit him again on a 3rd-and-3 for five yards and a first down. Talib held on to Smith’s leg for a few seconds too long, and Smith didn’t appreciate it at all. A small fracas started, and Talib was whistled for a 15-yard personal foul.

The two went at it again a few plays later as the Panthers got into the red zone. Talib has to know better than to give in to Smith’s shenanigans from his time against the receiver when he was with the Buccaneers. Talib is the most important player on the Patriots’ defense, and he can’t let Smith get into his head. The last thing the Patriots defense needs is Talib off of his game, or worse, off of the field.

Newton is 4-for-6 for 67 yards and the touchdown so far in this one. Smith has two grabs for 47 yards.

1st Quarter, 7:47:  The Patriots picked up a pair of first downs, but their first drive ended with Brady going down.

Greg Hardy sacked Brady on a 3rd-and-four at the Carolina 40 for his seventh sack of the season. Nate Solder was burned on the play, leading to yet another sack of Brady.

But the Patriots did a good job spreading it around on offense, with six different guys touching the ball on the drive. Like Talib, Shane Vereen jumped right into the fire tonight, making a pair of catches for four yards on the first drive.

The Panthers now take over on their own 10-yard line after a 34 yard punt by Ryan Allen.

1st Quarter, 13:27: It didn’t take long for Aqib Talib to make his presence felt.

Talib got the start and shadowed Steve Smith on Carolina’s first possession, and nearly picked off a third down pass by Cam Newton.

The Patriots stopped DeAngelo Williams and Cam Newton on first and second down, forcing a three-and-out. They will take over on their own 29-yard line.

8:36 pm, Pregame: After a two-week wait for Patriots fans, football is almost here.

The Patriots won the coin toss and chose to defer, as they do 99.9% of the time.

Injured captains Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo are both with the team for this one. Team president Jonathan Kraft said on the 98.5 The Sports Hub pregame show that both players are constantly with the team as they recover from their season-ending injuries.

8:17 pm, Pregame: With Monday Night Football comes plenty of pre-game hype, and even more pre-game waiting.

So with the extra long wait for football tonight, entertain yourself with this picture of Robert Kraft with Panthers owner Jerry Richardson before the game. The two were seen making their way across the field on a custom Carolina Panthers golf cart:

Patriots owner Robert Kraft jokes with a young fan as Panthers owner Jerry Richardson signs an autograph prior to Monday Night Football. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Patriots owner Robert Kraft jokes with a young fan as Panthers owner Jerry Richardson signs an autograph prior to Monday Night Football. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

8:05 pm, Pregame: It doesn’t sound like anything is holding Aqib Talib back tonight, with plenty of Tweets that the corner was out skipping on the field.

One other defense note from pregame is that linebacker Dont’e Hightower is back to having the green communication device in his helmet. Injured safety Steve Gregory had the communication device the last two games, but now it’s back to Hightower — who originally took over those duties when Jerod Mayo went down.

7:14 pm, Pregame: The Patriots’ inactives are out, and Aqib Talib is nowhere to be found on the list.

That’s great news for the Patriots, and bad news for Cam Newton and Steve Smith.

Here is the Patriots’ full list of inactives:

LB Steve Beauharnais

CB Alfonzo Dennard

S Steve Gregory

RB Brandon Bolden

OL Chris Barker

DL Jake Bequette

RB Leon Washington

One notable inactive is running back Brandon Bolden, who is the odd man out in the Patriots’ backfield with the return of Shane Vereen. Bolden has been battling a knee injury, so an extra week off could be a good thing for the back.

Both rookie receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce are active for New England. Boyce had been inactive for the last four games.

WBZ-TV’s Levan Reid chimes in with his thoughts on the Patriots’ inactives:

The main names in the Pats inactives are Steve Gregory and Alfonzo Dennard. This means Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon will be pushed into service.

Ryan has already played well this season, so let’s hope the bright lights don’t startle.

An active Shane Vereen means Brandon Bolden sits. Bolden was a great spell of Vereen but what Shane brings to the table is something many teams don’t have. The Pats will ease him in to the game but he will be a threat from the get-go.

I’m excited to see Talib back on the field, and it will be fun to see him renew his rivalry with Steve Smith.

6:25 pm, Pregame:  After a 15 day break the New England Patriots will finally kick off their second half of the season tonight on Monday Night Football.

The Patriots are 10-3 under Bill Belichick out of the bye week, but standing in their way of an 8-2 record are the Carolina Panthers, one of the hottest teams in football right now. The Panthers have won five straight, and find themselves right in the hunt of a NFC Playoff spot.

But Carolina hasn’t faced an offense quite like the Patriots and Tom Brady, who will have Shane Vereen back in his arsenal. That means Brady, for the first time all season, will have his full compliment of weapons on the field at once. Look for the Pats to come out firing, as the Panthers have held opponents scoreless in the first quarter this season.

With Vereen back in the mix, though he’ll be worked in slowly, expect the Patriots to spread it out early and often. Brady can go short to the likes of Vereen and Danny Amendola, and stretch the field with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Dobson. This will go a long way in keeping a tough Carolina defense guessing throughout the game.

READ: Gregory, Dennard OUT For Patriots

On defense, the Patriots are hoping to have corner Aqib Talib back on the field and covering veteran wide receiver Steve Smith. The All Pro has missed the last three games after suffering a hip injury against the New Orleans Saints, but practiced this week and is expected to be active. We’ll find out just before 7:00 pm when both teams will release their inactive list.

Follow along for all the updates from Monday night’s big game in Charlotte.

Tune in to Patriots-Panthers on Monday Night on 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship station of the New England Patriots. Stay tuned for a full postgame show after the game on 98.5 FM, and to Patriots 5th Quarter on myTV38.

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