"We all knew it was a touchdown," N'Keal Harry said of his 12-yard catch in the fourth quarter, per WEEI's Ryan Hannable. "Everyone clearly saw it was a touchdown, but like I said, it is out of our control."
The referees ruled Harry out at the 3-yard line, but subsequent replays showed he had stayed inbound prior to stretching out and putting the ball across the goal line.
The Patriots were unable to use a challenge because they had none left.
Rather than potentially making it a 23-20 game with just over 13 minutes remaining, the Pats eventually settled for a 29-yard field goal by Nick Folk.
A few plays before Harry's catch, Stephon Gilmore recovered a Travis Kelce fumble and had an open field in front of him. The veteran cornerback may have hit paydirt had the officials not ruled Kelce down and blown the play dead.
Head coach Bill Belichick had little choice but to throw the red flag, yet by doing so New England was left unable to challenge any calls for the remainder of the game.
To some extent, the Patriots were punished because the officials made too many mistakes.
Gilmore reflected on the situation after the defeat.
The decision to rule Kelce down in particular was puzzling because the NFL had a similar controversy in the New Orleans Saints' 27-9 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 2. You'd expect the referees to err on the side of caution, let things unfold and then bring the play back if the ball-carrier was in fact down.
Adding to New England's frustration, Sunday's result could have an impact on the AFC's playoff seeding. The Patriots fell a full game behind the Baltimore Ravens, who own the head-to-head tiebreaker, for first place in the conference.