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Blandino: Once ball is in the air, it’s interference or nothing


One of the major questions that has surfaced in the aftermath of Monday night’s much-disputed non-call is whether the officials could have flagged Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly for something other than pass interference.

Plenty of fans and more than a few members of the media have suggested that Kuechly should have been flagged for illegal contact or defensive holding.

According to NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino, penalties other than interference no longer are available once the ball is thrown.

“Illegal contact or holding are fouls that can only occur before the pass is thrown,” Blandino told PFT. “Once the ball is in the air it is pass interference or nothing.”

And that makes sense; otherwise, any play involving contact on an uncatchable pass would trigger an illegal contact foul or a holding call.

On Monday night, quarterback Tom Brady threw the ball before the contact occurred between Kuechly and Gronkowski. The available options were pass interference or no penalty. The officials made the judgment after consultation that there was no interference because the ball, intercepted by safety Robert Lester, could not have been caught.