BOSTON (CBS) – Some would say Monday night’s Patriots-Panthers game was the best game of the year, with the most controversial ending.

Here are your gold stars and penalty flags from the Pats’ loss:

Gold Stars

Shane Vereen gets a gold star in hi first game back, as he made an immediate impact. Brady targeted him the most as a receiver, and in turn Vereen led the Pats with 65 receiving yards.  He’s a nightmare match up for any team and the Pats will need him down the stretch.

Tale of the Tape: Patriots vs. Broncos

– The Tom Brady-Kenbrell Thompkins connection gets a gold star. This connection has been missing over the last couple of weeks but it was back on Monday night. KT had only two catches for 60 yards but it allowed the Pats the stretch the field again. If consistent, the connection can open the middle of the for Gronk and the running game.

Penalty Flags

Aqib Talib gets a penalty flag for losing his cool in his first game back. Aqib plays with fire, and you like that. He plays with passion and purpose, and you love that. But he cannot go over the line. He may of been trying to get into Steve Smith’s head, but it ended up costing him and his team. He also re-injured his hip and couldn’t play late in the game, so now we have that to worry about as well.

Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia get penalty flags.  Both coordinators had OK games, but there were a couple of plays that were tipping points. For McDaniels, it was a 3rd-and-1 play where they decided to pass instead of run. LeGarrette Blount was killing Carolina on the ground at the time, but the passing play stalled the drive as the Patriots had to settle for three points.

Patricia is doing the best with what he has but to not shadow Cam Newton on 3rd-and-long plays cost him. Where was Jamie Collins?  He’s strong enough and fast enough to bring down the allusive Newton, but he was never inserted.

READ: Patriots-Panthers Film Review

Monday night’s penalty flag gets a penalty flag. The last play of the game has been crushed by everyone. My problem is this: I know ratings are up and fantasy football is through the roof, but the product on the field is shoddy. To watch players after every play look around to find a flag has become common practice. No one knows the rules and the referees’ calls are inconsistent. The game has to be played on the field and not judged by yellow flags. Too many times that has been the case.

Follow Levan Reid on Twitter @LevanReid.



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