Bill Belichick has avoided commenting on the controversial finish to Monday night’s Patriots-Panthers game.
He’s repeatedly referred questions about the officiating to the league office, and he and quarterback Tom Brady have both said that a bigger concern is that the Patriots were even in the position to let one call sway the outcome of the game.
But in a locker room that is likely still feeling the sting — despite the proverbial “moving on to Denver” — Belichick has taken a different approach.
Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports that Belichick started Wednesday’s team meetings by showing the squad some footage of a very particular game. The team watched the ending of a 2009 contest between the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions, a game the Lions won 38-37 on a touchdown from the 1-yard line on the final play after an interception on a desperation heave the play before was overturned on a pass interference call.
Basically, it was the opposite of what happened to the Patriots on Monday night. Detroit got the call New England did not, getting a chance for one final play and winning the game.
Reiss speculates about why Belichick showed the footage, noting it’s unlikely Belichick was trying to stick one to the officials considering how the coach never pins losses on referees’ decisions. Reiss said Belichick likely showed the clip to help the Patriots remember that they can’t let a game get to the point where it’s altered by such a call, and to encourage the team to move on.
Whatever the reason, it’s further proof that Belichick knows how to coach all aspects of the game, whether he’s saying what he needs to about the officiating (any complaints could have drawn a fine and prolonged the chafing over the call while a big game with Denver awaits) or letting his players see he knows how they feel after such a finish.
The game also included former Belichick protégé and nemesis Eric Mangini coaching in Cleveland, though — so there’s always that.