Bill O’Brien agrees with the ruling on the field for Rob Gronkowski’s controversial catch

Bill O'Brien watches from the sideline during the first half. —AP Photo/Steven Senne

Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien conceded Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski’s controversial catch was, in fact, a catch.

“On the coach’s film, I really do [think it’s a catch],” O’Brien said Monday. “He went up, he caught it, [and] he kept both hands underneath it. Now, relative to some TV angles and some other video angles that I’ve seen, maybe it was questionable. But from the coach’s vantage point on the coach’s tape, it looked like a catch to me.”

With just over a minute remaining in the first half against the Texans Sunday, Gronkowski used his helmet to help bring in a 28-yard pass from quarterback Tom Brady. The ruling on the field was a catch, but it was debatable whether Gronkowski maintained possession as he fell to the ground in double coverage. The league offices in New York issued a request for review, but the Patriots quickly hustled up the field and started the next play before game officials received the message.

The catch was subsequently not reviewed, and the Patriots scored a touchdown on the drive to enter halftime with a 21-6 lead.


“I don’t think he caught that ball,” Texans cornerback Aaron Colvin told reporters after the Patriots’ 27-20 win.“I think that was the big play in the game.”

O’Brien said he knew he would be penalized if he threw his red challenge flag because the play occurred after the two-minute warning, which means it’s not the coach’s responsibility to initiate a review — something referee Tony Corrente confirmed Sunday. O’Brien could have called one of Houston’s three remaining timeouts to buy extra time for the request from New York to be relayed to the officials, but he opted not to — a decision that was lamented by analysts.

“The clock was running, and I felt like I did not want to take a timeout there,” O’Brien said Monday. “I felt like we still could hold them to a field goal in that situation.”

“I very much realize I can take a timeout there,” he continued. “I decided not to because I felt from my vantage point that it was a catch and that’s what I went with. They didn’t buzz down in time. OK, I do realize that I can take a timeout. I just didn’t make that very clear or answer that question very well last night.”

Immediately following Sunday’s game, O’Brien had said calling a timeout in that situation is “not [his] job.”

“It’s not my job to call a timeout to make [the official’s] job easier,” he said.

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