|Cooled-off Patriots less frustrated with replacement refs a day later||09.24.12 at 5:21 pm ET|
FOXBORO — If fans think they’re frustrated watching the replacement officials impact NFL games in not-so-glamorous ways, imagine what it’s like for those actually on the field. Players and coaches have made their frustrations known with body language, physical contact, comments in the media and social networking.
The Patriots put themselves in the middle of that Sunday night when Bill Belichick grabbed an official after New England’s 31-30 loss to the Ravens, and Brandon Spikes tweeted his feelings about the “[expletive] zebras” going back to Foot Locker.
On Monday, as the Patriots awaited word on a potential punishment for Belichick, the Patriots went about doing a bit of damage control. Following his opening statement and before taking questions at his press conference Monday, Belichick explained his actions that followed Justin Tucker‘s game-winning field goal.
“On the final kick, after we took the timeout and rushed the kick, from the sideline I saw the ball go pretty close to the upright,” Belichick said. “I couldn’t obviously tell from where I was at where exactly where it went, but I saw our players waving that it was no good and I saw the officials giving the signal that it was good. 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 upright, so by rule if the ball isn’t over the crossbar and it’s either inside or outside of the upright, that’s reviewable. If it’s over the top of the upright, then it’s not reviewable, but I couldn’t tell from my angle when the ball crossed the crossbar where it was.
“I didn’t know whether or not that play was going to be under review or whether it wasn’t, so when the game was over I went out and was really looking for an explanation from the officials as to whether or not the play was under review, and 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.
“I’ve coached in this league a long time and have never been penalized, never had any incidents with officials or anything like that. I’ve 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 trying to get an explanation for obviously an important call and play in that game. That’s the No. 1 thing between coaches and officials, that’s always at the forefront. It’s just communication of what’s going on, what’s happening.”
Belichick compared the situation to the last game of the 2000 season, when he sought clarification on a Drew Bledsoe fumble-turned-incomplete pass that would have left three seconds on the clock rather than end the game in a contest against the Dolphins. A review after the teams had left the field resulted in players needing to come back on the field for one final play.
“I’d been through a situation at the end of the game where it’s over, but it’s not over — that type of thing. That was really the situation last night. I was trying to get the official’s attention to get an explanation on it, and in no way was I trying to do anything other than that.”
Spikes, meanwhile, probably picked up a few more followers with a tweet that was likely the result of his frustration with a holding call that negated a fourth-quarter sack of Joe Flacco.
“Spikes is a passionate guy, and that one particular play that we did have the sack on, they did throw a flag and I’m sure he was upset about that, but that’s football,” Rob Ninkovich said. “You’ve just got to deal with it.”
Danny Woodhead was his usual tight-lipped self on Monday, and the veteran running back deflected questions about how the officiating has impacted the young season.
“That’s not something that I really think about,” Woodhead said of the officials. “I think about what I can do to help my teammates out, and to do my job. That’s really what I’m concerned with.”
Woodhead, who had a team-high 15 carries for 34 yards on Sunday with nine receiving yards on one catch, said that if the frustration with officiating is boiling over amongst the Patriots, he hasn’t heard it.
“I really haven’t heard much,” he said. “We’ve just got to focus on our jobs and what we can do to help the team out. That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to control what I can control, and that’s my job.”
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