Tom Brady had done it again.
He had just led the New England Patriots back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 in the AFC championship game. In doing so, the 40-year-old quarterback advanced to the Super Bowl for the eighth time in his 18-year career.
Congratulations were certainly in order … although maybe not from this guy.
Yep, that's referee Clete Blakeman giving ol' No. 12 what appears to be a friendly nudge in the back and pat on the chest immediately following the game. Probably a completely harmless gesture, but not really a great look for a referee — especially after a game in which Patriots were penalized only once for 10 yards.
Brady and Blakeman actually have a history, but it's not a pleasant one. According to the New York Daily News, Blakeman initially called defensive pass interference on a last-second throw by Brady during a 2013 game against the Carolina Panthers, but then the referee changed his mind and allowed the game to end in a 24-20 Patriots loss. Brady then ran after Blakeman and appeared to yell numerous expletives at him.
The last time a team had only one flag thrown against them during a playoff game was in 2011, and that team was also Brady's Patriots.
This time around, the Jaguars were penalized six times for 98 yards.
"Interesting," Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack said after being told of the discrepancy in penalties against the two teams. "My thoughts on that is ... yeah, that's kind of self-explanatory. I didn't know that.
"I'll just say that's self-explanatory. Interesting. That's all I'm going to say."
Jacksonville defensive tackle Malik Jackson smirked when asked if he thought the game was evenly called.
"The stats speak for themselves," he said.
According to ESPN, Jacksonville cornerback A.J. Bouye was upset after the game about numerous calls and noncalls, including a pass interference call against him, one that wasn't called against the Patriots' Stephon Gilmore late in the game and an apparent head-butt by New England's Danny Amendola against the Jaguars' Tashaun Gipson.
"But at the end of the day, we can't put the blame on [the referees]," Bouye said. "We didn't execute good enough. They executed good enough."