Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bill Belichick Takes Responsibility for Pushing Penalty, and That's Why I Love Him

When speaking to the media Monday morning, Bill Belichick took responsibility for the 15 yard penalty that might have cost the Patriots a win against the Jets on Sunday. This was in contrast to his post-game remarks about the call. On Sunday Belichick pointed out that Chris Jones, the player penalized, was not a "second level" player, and therefore the rule about pushing a teammate into the pile should not apply to him.

The confusion seems to have been caused by the NFL's explanation of the enforcement of the rule, which mentioned that players in the defense's second level would be penalized for pushing their line of scrimmage teammates. However, the rule itself does not make such a distinction. According to the official rule, in field-goal and PAT situations, no defensive player can push a teammate into the pile, regardless of where either player was when the play started.

Belichick could have continued to make a stink, but he didn't. He could have pointed out that the rule hadn't been enforced for 6 weeks. He could have asked why it was called in that particular situation and not before, such as in Week 6 against the Saints.

Or earlier in the game when a Jet pushed his teammate when the Patriots were kicking a field-goal (watch the interior of the Jets line, just to the right of the Pats long-snapper).

Or Belichick could have done what he might be expected to do and ignore it. And try to convince the media to ignore it. He could have given a standard Belichick line like "We're focusing on Miami this week."

What he did say was wiser. He took responsibility for coaching Chris Jones to do that: "What he did was basically what he was being told to do. We just have to coach it better. That’s not Chris Jones' fault."

And when asked about the confusion over the rule Belichick stated "...obviously we are wrong. What else is there to say? We're wrong."

What taking responsibility does is kill and bury the story for Belichick and his players. The media can ask questions and the answer can be repeated: "We were wrong." The team can move on. Belichick can move on. The media will try to linger, but the story has been dictated by Belichick that he was wrong, so what else can the media do?

And moving on is what teams need to do after any loss, especially a tough one. After wins too, for that matter. Teams need to look forward at the next opponent, the next obstacle, the next practice. If any part of their focus remains on that penalty, they'll be missing something when they play the Dolphins.

By taking responsibility for the penalty instead of pointing out all the oddities and inconsistencies around it or asking questions about it, Belichick has allowed himself and his players to move on. Which is what we as fans must also do. The play is over, it was weird, but it's in the past.

Field goal images originally found on the New York Daily News website and Barstool Sports.


  1. PushRuleGate2:55 PM

    No, it isn't over. Not with the NFL changing rules on the fly to suit the way their referees call penalties. Not when the same referee witnessed the Jets commit the exact same penalty earlier in the game, but did nothing. Not when the Patriots may very well end up losing the AFC East to the Jets on a tiebreaker and missing the Playoffs should both teams finish say 10-6.

    The Patriots got SCREWED. The NFL covered it up. And it's up to us fans to keep calling Roger Goodell's NFL out on it.

  2. Well what's the end game to this outrage? Is the result of the game going to be reversed? Or wiped clean from the standings?

    Do you want to be on the same level as the New York Post with their asinine asterisk next to the Patriots on their standings page?