September 24, 2012

With arm grab, Belichick wanted explanation of last-play FG

The Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — All Bill Belichick wanted was an explanation. He'll probably end up with a fine.

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New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, left, looks on during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

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Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker watches his game-winning field goal in the final moments of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Baltimore, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. Baltimore won 31-30. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

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Wrapped up in an intense game with fellow AFC power Baltimore, the coach of the New England Patriots grabbed the arm of a replacement official after the Ravens won 31-30 on a last-play field goal Sunday night.

Belichick had an angry look, but didn't pursue him.

He was much calmer on Monday.

"When the game was over I went out and I was really looking for an explanation from the officials as to whether the play was under review," he said. "I did try to get the official's attention as he was coming off the field to ask that, but I really wasn't able to do that."

The usually laconic Belichick discussed at length the incident that followed Justin Tucker's 27-yard field goal, which capped Baltimore's comeback from a 30-21 deficit in the fourth quarter and dropped the Patriots (1-2) to their first sub-.500 record in nine years.

The kick appeared to go just inside the top of the right upright or slightly above it.

Belichick said a field-goal kick is not reviewable if it goes above the top of an upright, but is reviewable if it goes below the top and to either side of it.

"I saw our players waving that it was no good and I saw the officials giving the signal that it was good," he said. "I just wasn't sure from where I was standing whether the ball, when it went over the crossbar, was above the upright or in between or not in between the uprights.

"So I didn't know whether or not that play was going to be under review or whether it wasn't."

His contact with the official was very brief, but the NFL is taking a hard line against coaches while it has locked out regular officials in a labor dispute.

On Monday, it fined Denver Broncos coach John Fox $30,000 and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio $25,000 for arguing with replacement officials a week ago. NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson said he is reviewing the conduct of Belichick and the Ravens' John Harbaugh.

In his postgame news conference Belichick said he didn't expect to get fined. On Monday, he didn't mention the possibility of a fine or having touched the official.

"I've coached in this league a long time and never been penalized, never had any incidents with officials or anything like that," he said. "I have never meant any disrespect or in any way tried to abuse or be disrespectful to the officials and the job that they do. I was just trying to get an explanation for, obviously, an important call.

"That's the No. 1 thing between coaches and officials. It's always at the forefront. It's just communication of what's going on, what's happening."

Back in 2000, Belichick's first season as New England's coach, his communication with referee Johnny Grier resulted in the Patriots and Miami Dolphins returning to the field for the final play after about 35 minutes in the locker rooms.

Drew Bledsoe had just been called for a fumble and an illegal forward pass as time ran out and the teams left the field. Belichick said Monday that as he was walking off the field he told Grier the play appeared to be an incompletion and the Patriots should have another play. But Grier said, "No. That's the ruling. The game is over," Belichick recalled.

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