When in doubt, blame the officials.
That has been the motto of coaches, players and fans around the NFL for the past three weeks, and for excellent reason. The current referee lockout has put underqualified officials in charge of meaningful games.
After Sunday night's thrilling game between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens (Ravens won, 31-30), Pats head coach Bill Belichick grabbed one of the officials as he left the field in an incident that he will surely pay for this week, and rightfully so.
According to NBC Sports Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, the NFL Network's Steve Wyche reported Monday morning that the league will review the incident.
This was Belichick on the incident during his postgame press conference (via NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal):
I'm not going to comment on that. You saw the game. Talk to the officials about the way they called the game.
Though no one should expect Belichick to be all smiles after losing by a point on a last-second field goal, there must be a line that players and coaches can't cross without repercussion. I'd say that contact with an official is a pretty clear line.
Sure, the Patriots were called for 10 penalties and are now 1-2 on the season, but that's not to say the officiating cost them the game. After all, the Ravens were called for 135 yards worth of penalties themselves.
Belichick must hold himself and his team accountable for their tough loss in Week 3. There is no shame in losing on the road to the Ravens, unless of course you embarrass yourself afterward by lunging at a replacement referee.
New England was outscored 31-17 after the first quarter and deserved to lose on Sunday night. Regardless of how you break it down, the referees held back both teams. Just as is the case with the real officials, someone has to win, and someone has to lose.
Perhaps Belichick should focus on finding a way to re-ignite the Patriots running game in Week 4 rather then debating a game-winning field goal or arguing past calls far too old to overturn.
As stressful as the replacement referee situation is in the NFL today, the only thing that can make it worse is allowing players and coaches to get away with flagrantly intimidating the inexperienced officials who already have too much on their plates.
Belichick crossed the line on Sunday night, and he must be fined for it.
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