ESPN’s Sports Science Breaks Down the Controversial Ending to Monday’s Pats-Panthers Game (Video)
If you’ve talked to anybody about the controversial ending to Monday night’s game between the Panthers and Patriots, then you know the big question is not whether Carolina’s Luke Kuechly interfered with Rob Gronkowski. Rather, the question is whether Gronk had any chance of actually catching the ball thrown by Tom Brady. Because you see, according to rule 8.5.3, if the pass is “uncatchable” then the interference is inconsequential and doesn’t merit a penalty.
Thus, the argument boils down to this: those who say the pass was not catchable argue that Gronkowski was moving in the opposite direction and would not have been able to stop and get moving the other way in time. Those who say the pass was catchable argue that, if not for Kuechly’s contact, Gronkowski could have stopped and changed direction.
So who is right? Well, the folks over at ESPN’s Sport Science decided to take a stab at answering this question once and for all. Here is their take:
So what do you think? Persuaded?
Yeah, I’m not. Normally I don’t argue with “science,” but calling this “science” is probably an exaggeration. I do think they’ve established that it is empirically possible Gronk could have stopped and caught the ball in the realm of space and time. But they don’t say anything about reaction time. Go to the 37-second mark and notice when Robert Lester starts preparing to catch the ball. The split second after Kuechly’s hand hits Gronk’s shoulder, Lester starts to lunge for the ball. You would have to think that, if Gronk wasn’t preparing to catch the ball at that point, he wasn’t going to catch it. So I’m still comfortable with the “uncatchable” label.
That’s my science. What’s yours?