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Posted at 03:52 PM ET, 09/24/2012

Bill Belichick grabs a replacement ref, draws NFL’s attention


Bill Belichick was unhappy, starting in the first quarter. (Rob Carr / Getty Images)
New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick was so angry after the team’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens that, an NFL memo be damned, he ran up to an official and briefly grabbed him as he voiced his displeasure.

So much for the memo.

The Belichick incident, the NFL Network’s Steve Wyche reports, will be investigated by the NFL, which is no surprise. Nor is it much of a surprise that Belichick had a beef with the performance of replacement referees — a recurring theme again Sunday across the NFL.

Update (3:50 p.m.): Belichick addressed the incident in his opening statement at his Monday press conference, saying he wanted a better explanation from the officials after players believed Justin Tucker’s game-winning field goal was no good.

“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 in the forefront is communication of what’s going on, what’s happening,” said Belichick (via Boston.com), who cited a game in 2000 in which officials brought his team back out onto the field after a review of game’s final play overturned a fumble call.

“I was 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.”

Specifically for the Patriots, with 52 seconds left in a game in which skirmishes continually broke out, Devin McCourty was called for pass interference on third-and-9, giving the Ravens first-and-goal at the 9. Justin Tucker hit a field goal as time ran out and the Ravens won, 31-30.

With that, Belichick pursued the official, quickly recovered and shook the hand of Ravens Coach John Harbaugh. (Watch here.)

The NFL reportedly will fine Denver Broncos Coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio for repeatedly berating officials in the “Monday Night Football” game last week. If that happens, it’s hard to imagine that Belichick won’t be dinged as well. He was typically terse after the game when he was asked if he thought he’d be fined:

“No.”

Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth had a different idea.

“Oh, boy, that’s a few bucks,” Michaels said.

“I can’t believe Bill Belichick just did that,” Collinsworth said.

Belichick did say of the officiating, “I'm not going to comment on that. You saw the game. What did we have, 30 penalties called in the game?”

There’s precedent for fines involving the touching of refs. Pro Football Talk recalled that former Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Bill Cowher was fined $7,500 in 1995 for stuffing a photo that showed the Steelers not having 12 men on the field during a missed field goal by Minnesota into the pocket of an official and verbally ripping the call.

This time there are a couple of crucial differences: coaches have been warned about criticizing the replacements and the NFL is terribly sensitive about the matter.

Brandon Spikes may be hearing from the league as well, for tweeting, “Can someone please tell these [expletive] zebras foot locker called and they’re needed Back at work !!!! #BreakingPoint” Later, he tweeted that he wasn’t talking about the refs.

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More

Report: Fox, Del Rio to be fined

NFL warns teams about conduct toward replacements

Integrity of the game is on the line

Pressure grows to bring back regular refs

By  |  03:52 PM ET, 09/24/2012

 
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