Patriots

NFL assigns referee Clete Blakeman's crew for Patriots-Panthers game

Patriots

The last time the New England Patriots played against the Carolina Panthers in a game refereed by Clete Blakeman it ended in controversial fashion.

Patriots fans are hoping to see a less frustrating ending Sunday when Blakeman's crew officiates New England's Week 9 matchup in Carolina.

The aforementioned controversy happened on the final play of the Patriots' Week 11 game against the Panthers during the 2013 NFL season. Then-Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was held by Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly in the end zone but no pass interference penalty was called. A flag was thrown but ultimately got picked up.

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Carolina escaped with a 24-20 win as a result.

Blakeman has been the referee for nine Patriots games since that memorable ending in Carolina, including New England's victories in the 2017 and 2018 AFC Championship Game. His most recent assignment involving the Patriots was their Week 1 loss to the Miami Dolphins in September.

Blakeman's crew entered Week 8 with 15.5 penalties called per game, the seventh-most in the league among 17 crews, per ESPN's Mike Reiss.

Kickoff on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.

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