NFL Admits To Communication Breakdown In Patriots-Saints Preseason Game

Bill Belichick was heated Saturday night when NFL officials wiped out a would-be New England Patriots first-down conversion as time was running out in the first half.

Jimmy Garoppolo completed an 11-yard pass to Brandon Gibson with 1:02 remaining in the half. The Patriots marched to he line of scrimmage quickly and Garoppolo completed another pass to Gibson for a first down. That play didn’t count, however, because there was an official review for the previous play that wasn’t communicated to referee Barry Anderson until just before the Patriots snapped the ball, WEEI’s Mike Petraglia wrote Friday.

“There was a breakdown in communication on our end,” NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino told via email.

Belichick voiced his displeasure with the officials on the field after the Patriots’ initial catch was confirmed. Belichick had calmed down by Sunday morning, but he still sounded perturbed on a conference call with the media.

“Oh boy. Well, it was — there was a replay from the booth, and then there were timing issues of what was going to be on the clock versus what was actually up there, the explanation from the referee on his announcement versus what was actually communicated to the bench, to the sideline,” Belichick said. “I called a timeout on a play that there was a penalty on so was that a timeout or was it not a timeout? Did the penalty override it? There were several things that came up there, and I think, again, it’s preseason for all of us. We’re kind of working our way through some of those situations.

“Probably the best thing for you to do is talk to Dean and get a full explanation and interpretation on everything from him because there were several things that came up consecutively there, and they in a way it kind of played off each other. The timing was certainly a part of it — how much time was left, and then ultimately whether a timeout was or wasn’t going to be charged. It was a short completion and then a penalty on the play for a late hit I think. Did the timeout count or not count? Were we going to have time to call the guys over and take a timeout, or was the play going to continue and time get wiped off and all of that?

“So, there was definitely some just trying to clear up exactly what the situation was. At the same time, the officials are trying to keep the game going. They’re not trying to stop and have a conversation at the end of every play, so there’s a tempo and pace of play issue but then there’s also a communication issue in terms of just knowing exactly what’s happening. All of those things, it was a unique situation the way it all kind of happened together, and I’m sure there was confusion up there because there was confusion on the field too.”

WEEI did reach out to Blandino about the play.

“We’ve got to do a better job communicating, and that’s what the preseason is for, to work through all these mechanics,” Blandino told “In essence, what happened is this play technically didn’t happen because we said that the previous play was under review. We went back and reviewed it.

“The call on the field stood and we had to reset the clock because not only would New England be losing that 10-yard gain, but then we’d be taking nine or ten seconds off the clock. So, we had to go back to the snap of the play that was voided, give New England the ball at the 46, reset the clock to 37 seconds and it was first-and-10 and we would wind on the ready.”

Thumbnail photo via Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports Images

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