Patriots notebook: Rob Gronkowski baffled by pass interference penalties

FOXBORO — Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has seen these flags before.

The problem is he doesn’t know when he’ll see them again.

Gronk was flagged for offensive pass interference yesterday during the Pats’ 33-30 loss to the Panthers at Gillette Stadium. The play wiped out his 10-yard catch in the second quarter.

“I wasn’t really sure,” Gronkowski said when asked if he got an explanation. “If you guys saw it, I mean, I didn’t really see it.”

Gronk is tied for the league lead with Danny Amendola and DeAndre Hopkins with two offensive pass interference penalties. Amendola drew another one yesterday as well to erase a 14-yard catch for Gronk in the first quarter, and the penalty essentially led to a punt.

The real issue is the level of inconsistency with the calls, whether it’s from play to play, game to game or even year to year. Gronkowski wasn’t flagged for offensive pass interference last year in eight games, but he tied for the league lead with five in 2015.

Before that? He was called three times as a rookie in 2010 and once in 2012. So after going two seasons without an OPI in 2013 and 2014, he led the NFL in 2015, had a clean sheet in 2016 and is here again at the top of a frustrating leaderboard.

He thinks the officials are calling it tighter on him yet again.

“For sure, in some aspects,” Gronk said. “I felt like last week they let us play. This week, they didn’t really. They were calling it a little tight. But I mean, it is what it is. It’s a tough job out there. (The officials) do a great job every week, week-in, week-out, so can’t put anything on them. It’s a team game and we’ve got to go out and execute and make some plays.”

Gronkowski was visibly annoyed about the calls in 2015, but he put it on himself yesterday, even if he had to hide the frustration.

“It is what it is,” Gronk said. “Once you see a call like that, you’ve got to know what’s going on, what kind of game is being called, how to play the game. You just go with the flow. So, that’s what you’ve got to do.”

Kicking it

Stephen Gostkowski made all three of his field goals, including a franchise-record 58-yarder at the end of the second quarter. It was a smooth operation despite the fact that the unit obviously doesn’t practice those long boots very often.

“Just every once in a blue moon,” Gostkowski said. “I don’t spend all my time trying to see how far I can kick it. You can hit a 50-yard field goal and see it go…

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