PHOENIX — Somewhere, Bill Belichick is cackling.

The New England Patriots head coach continues to confuse the entire NFL over his ineligible-receiver formation.

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll mistakenly announced during his Thursday news conference that the NFL had a new signal to identify the New England Patriots’ ineligible players.

NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino clarified later in the day that the signal was introduced prior to the AFC Championship Game.

“The official points at the player, ‘It’s 47,’ he waved his arms like an incomplete pass signal, then pointed at the player again while making an announcement,” Blandino said. “So that’ll be the mechanic. It’s exactly what we did during the AFC Championship Game. Indianapolis, the defense, would recognize that he player was ineligible. So, that’s what (NFL referee Bill Vinovich) will follow when we have the game on Sunday.

“I think in the conversation, (Carroll) may have misinterpreted that it was new. We actually did do it during the AFC Championship Game.”

Blandino and the NFL apparently hadn’t gone over ineligible protocol with Vinovich, since the referee then said “I also made the announcement ‘Do not cover (the ineligible receiver).'”

Blandino replied, “Which we won’t do.”

Vinovich looked confused at Blandino and asked, “We won’t?” And Blandino shook his head.

The media gathered at the conference room laughed at the NFL’s continued incompetence. The NFL should probably make sure that Vinovich has that down before Sunday, since he’ll be officiating the Patriots and their confusing formations.

The defense does need to account for the ineligible player since he can still catch a lateral.

Thumbnail photo via Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports Images