Patriots

It's an official mess as Patriots fall

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It's an official mess as Patriots fall

BALTIMORE, MD -- The mob's cries against NFL replacement officials crescendoed Sunday night.
There are 24 penalties in the books for New England's 31-30 loss to Baltimore. The Patriots were forced to swallow 10 for 83 yards while the Ravens took 14 for 135. There was one penalty on the Patriots that was declined. So that's a total of 25 flags thrown.

"It seemed as if every ball that was thrown was a flag," said Patriots defensive captain Vince Wilfork.
"It's very frustrating. But what can you do? When you're an aggressive defense, it takes away from the aggressiveness. Things that we try to do, they take it away. You hesitate to do this, do that -- not do it, whatever. But we have to play within the rules."
Do the players feel the rules are clear this season?
"I know what the rules are," Wilfork scoffed with peaked eyebrows. "But it's not up to me. I'm not the one throwing flags."
Officials are always vilified; the replacements were doomed to fail from Day 1. Worst case scenario, though, was for them to do so beyond a reasonable doubt.
Not every game has been awful. But there have been flubs enough that last week Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis, and Bernard Pollard all hammered replacement officials. Pollard went so far as to say these stand-ins are "messing up the integrity of the league."
Bill Belichick kept quiet in his postgame press conference, but literally grasped for answers in the game's more immediate aftermath. The coachtried to engage an official after the game by grabbing him on the way to the locker rooms.
The referee ignored him. The league may not ignore Belichick making contact with an official, however.

"I'm not going to comment about that," Belichick said in the presser. "You saw the game. What did we have, 30 penalties called?"
Even when a door was opened for the game's stuttering tempo to be blamed on the officials, he wouldn't walk through.
"It's our job to go out there and control what we can control. That's what we're going to try to work on. Can't control anything else. Talk to the officials about the way they called the game. Talk to the league about the way they called it."
Wilfork was more open about being bothered.
One play in particular set him off: Baltimore's game-winning field goal. Wilfork thought the kick was so close it should have been reviewed.
"Just to run off the field... From my angle it looked very close," he said. "So I was frustrated at that. A lot of things I was frustrated about.
"They have to review it. I mean, you have to. A game like this, you have to. But they ran off the field."
That call is one the refs got right.
According to Jim Daopoulos, who spent 11 years as an NFL on-field official and 12 as an NFL supervisor of officials, field goals are only reviewable if the ball is inside the uprights.If the ball sails over, as it did in Baltimore, there's no way to check because there's no reference point.
But from Daopoulos' view at NBC's Football Night in America studio, the Patriots had other reasons to gripe.
"The players can't play the game," Daopoulos said. "Brady cant play the game. He doesnt know what the calls will be. He dont know what's going to be holding, doesn't know what's going to be pass interference. It makes it so hard for them to play the game in any consistent way."
So what do the players do? Sunday night, Wilfork shrugged. What else could he do?
"It is what it is, man," he said. "I'm not going to sit here and pick a fight with those guys. They have a job to do, we have a job to do. All we can do is play better and not be in those situations. We'll see how it goes from there."
Eyes all over the country will be watching.

EX-PATS PODCAST: Why does it seem Patriots secondary is playing better without Gilmore?

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EX-PATS PODCAST: Why does it seem Patriots secondary is playing better without Gilmore?

On this episode of The Ex-Pats Podcast...

0:10 - Mike Giardi and Dan Koppen give their takeaways from the Patriots win over the Falcons including the defense coming up strong against Atlanta but New England still taking too many penalties.

2:00 - Why it felt like this game meant more to the Patriots, their sense of excitement after the win, and building chemistry off a good victory.

6:20 - Falcons losing their identity without Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator and their bad play calling and decisions on 4th downs.

10:00 -  A discussion about Matt Ryan not making the throws he needed against the Patriots and if he has falling off the MVP caliber-type player he was last season.

14:00 - How and why the Patriots secondary seems to be playing better without Stephon Gilmore and why Malcolm Butler has been able to turn up his play as of late.

Mother Nature gets between Belichick and his Patriots-Falcons film study

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Mother Nature gets between Belichick and his Patriots-Falcons film study

If your team makes a goal-line stop in the fourth quarter, but you can't see it on the All-22 tape, did it even happen? 

Bill Belichick said the fog that hovered above the Gillette Stadium turf on Sunday night didn't impact the play on the field, but it did make its imprint on the game in other ways. First of all, spotters and coaches up at the press level had some difficulty relaying information to coaches on the sidelines. Video on the hand-held tablets for sideline use -- as well as the old-school still-frame pictures Belichick prefers -- was also obstructed. 

Then on Monday, as coaches tried to digest the film, the fog butted in on the process again. 

"It affected us a lot this morning because it’s hard to see the game," Belichick said during a conference call. "The fourth quarter is – I don’t know – pretty close to a white-out on the sideline film. The sideline cameras are at the top of the stadium, so that’s a tough shot.

"The end zone cameras are a little bit lower and they get a little tighter shot, so the picture is a little bit clearer. But, on that shot, a lot of times you’re not able to see all the guys on the perimeter. It’s kind of an in-line shot.

"Yeah, the first half, start of the third quarter, it’s all right. As they get into the middle of the third quarter and on, for those of us with aging eyes, it’s a little strained to see it, and then there’s a point where you can’t really see it at all, especially from the sideline. So, yeah, it affected us."

Belichick re-iterated that the fog didn't do much to the product on the field (other than maybe making life difficult for kick and punt-returners), refuting Julio Jones' claim from late Sunday night. When it came to digesting the film, though, that was another story.

"It was more, I’d say, just tougher for, whether it be our video camera or the fans that were sitting in the upper deck. It’s just there was too much interference there," Belichick said. "It was probably hard to see the game. I know when we tried to look at the pictures in between series – you know, I don’t look at the tablets, so I won’t get into that – but the pictures, it was kind of the same thing. It was hard to really be able to make out exactly what you were seeing."