Bill Belichick Grabs Ref, Turns Latest Replacement Ref Controversy Into Bill Belichick Controversy

  • Glenn Davis

On a day filled with NFL craziness (see the Lions’ Hail Mary to force overtime and the Jaguars’ 80-yard last-minute touchdown, to name two instances), the many twists and turns in the Ravens’ 31-30 win over the Patriots stand proudly among the very craziest action of the day. There were five lead changes. The Ravens overcame 13-0 and 30-21 deficits (the latter in the fourth quarter). Ravens receiver Torrey Smith played less than 24 hours after the tragic death of his brother – and he was probably the player of the game, catching six passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns.

And then…there was that ending. The Ravens won the game on a 27-yard field goal from Justin Tucker as time expired. This was unlike most other 27-yard field goals, though… because it nearly missed. Just how close was it? Well, close enough to seriously wonder if it was actually good at all:

So… was it? From the looks of it, the ball went right over the upright. The Patriots wanted a review. They didn’t get one, but Bill Belichick tried really hard. Like, too hard. Like, “chased after a referee and grabbed him to try and stop him to beg for a review” hard:

The grabbing is going to be the big issue here. Physical contact with refs is a big no-no, and even if Belichick wasn’t trying to intimidate (which we honestly don’t think he was), it was still a bad move on his part, and provides perfect fodder for the NFL to set a “don’t mess with the refs” example. In other words, expect a hefty fine for Lord and Master Bill.

But again – about that field goal. Another big reason the NFL will lok so unkindly on Belichick going to those lengths to try to get a review: the play wasn’t reviewable to begin with. Once it was called good, that was the end of it. In this case, Belichick’s desperation to gain control over a situation had no chance of working. As for whether the Patriots had a case that the refs made the wrong call, as explained in the above-linked post by Mike Pereira:

Here is the rule: In order for a field goal that crosses over the top of the upright to be good, the entire ball must pass inside the outside edge of the upright extended.

In other words, draw a line straight up extending the outside edge of the upright skyward. If the entire ball passes inside that line at the exact point that it is directly over the upright, then the field goal is good.

And here’s a screencap of the field goal in question, courtesy of Jose3030:

From that angle, it looks like it passes just inside the imaginary infinitely-extending line, but it’s about as close as it gets. Absent Belichick’s theatrics, there’d probably be another replacement ref controversy around this – and, surprise surprise, there was much discontent about their performance, even from the victors – but honestly, having the normal officials in place probably wouldn’t have made a difference here. And again, based on that screencap, gun to our heads, we’d say the refs made the right call here. As for Belichick, though? That was probably his worst move since this.

Screencap via