FOXBORO -- Before Bill Belichick even fielded any questions at Monday's press conference at Gillette Stadium, he felt the need to explain himself. The Patriots coach gave his reasoning for making contact with an official at the end of Sunday night's loss to the Baltimore Ravens, which ended in a questionable Justin Tucker field goal that just barely made it over the right upright.
"I've been asked about the situation at the end of the game, so, I'm just going to take a couple minutes to explain that. And that will be the end of it," said Belichick on Monday.
"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. I couldn't obviously tell, from where I was at, where exactly it went. But I saw 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 cross bar, 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 cross bar, over the top of the upright, then it's not reviewable. But I couldn't tell, from my angle, when the ball crossed the cross bar, where it was. So 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 I was really looking for an explanation from the officials as to whether or not the play was under review," continued Belichick. "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."
Belichick grabbed the arm of one official at midfield, just before shaking hands with Baltimore coach John Harbaugh. The official didn't even look at Belichick, and kept running off the field.
A day later, there have been questions as to whether or not Belichick would be hearing from the league. But the Patriots coach defended himself on Monday, pointing out a game in 2000 that was re-started after it was "over."
"I've coached in this league a long time, and I've never been penalized, never had any incidents with officials, or anything like that," said Belichick during his opening comments to the media on Monday. "I 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, play in that game. And that's the number one thing -- between coaches and officials -- that's always at the forefront, just the communication of what's going on, what's happening.
"In 2000, here in Foxboro, with Johnny Grier as the referee, Drew Bledsoe was trying to throw a pass at the end of the game against Miami, and the ball was ruled a fumble. The clock ran out. The game was over. And then, as I was walking off the field with Johnny at that time, I talked to him how this seems like an incomplete pass, there should be more time on the clock, we should have another play here. But no, that was the ruling, the game was over. We go back into the locker room, and 10 minutes or so later, Johnny comes back and says they're reviewing the play and we may have to go back out and finish the game. Five minutes after that, the players got dressed, we came back out for a final play in that game.
"So, I've been through situations at the end of the game where it's over but it's not over, that type of thing," added Belichick. "And that was really the situation last night. I was just trying to get the official's attention to get an explanation on it. And in no way was I ever trying to do anything other than that. So, I have nothing further to add about that situation, but that's what happened."
Belichick refused to answer any questions about the final play or his contact with the official, but he did feel the need to discuss how important "communication" is between coaches and officials.
"As it relates to the officiating, that's always the number one thing," said Belichick. "From the time when we meet with the officials in the spring, to when the officials come to training camp. to before every game when we meet with the officials, both in pre game and also out on the field when we meet with the referee, the thing that we always communicate about is communication. We talk about communication.
"Sometimes the officials have the information, sometimes they don't. But when they don't, then they usually get back to you, as soon as they get it, after a TV timeout or after they've had a chance to talk to whoever it was that made the call. That's normal. That's just the way it is."