Belichick: I was looking for an explanation

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Belichick: I was looking for an explanation

FOXBORO -- Before Bill Belichick even fielded any questions at Monday's press conference at Gillette Stadium, he felt the need to explain himself. The Patriots coach gave his reasoning for making contact with an official at the end of Sunday night's loss to the Baltimore Ravens, which ended in a questionable Justin Tucker field goal that just barely made it over the right upright.

"I've been asked about the situation at the end of the game, so, I'm just going to take a couple minutes to explain that. And that will be the end of it," said Belichick on Monday.

"On the final kick, after we took the timeout and rushed the kick, from the sideline, I saw the ball go pretty close to the upright. I couldn't obviously tell, from where I was at, where exactly it went. But I saw players waving that it was no good. And I saw the officials giving the signal that it was good. I just wasn't sure, from where I was standing, whether the ball, when it went over the cross bar, was above the upright or in between or not in between the upright. So, by rule, if the ball isn't over the crossbar, and it's either inside or outside of the upright, that's reviewable. If it's over the cross bar, over the top of the upright, then it's not reviewable. But I couldn't tell, from my angle, when the ball crossed the cross bar, where it was. So I didn't know whether or not that play was going to be under review, or whether it wasn't.

"So when the game was over, I went out and I was really looking for an explanation from the officials as to whether or not the play was under review," continued Belichick. "And I did try to get the official's attention, as he was coming off the field, to ask that. But I really wasn't able to do that."

Belichick grabbed the arm of one official at midfield, just before shaking hands with Baltimore coach John Harbaugh. The official didn't even look at Belichick, and kept running off the field.

A day later, there have been questions as to whether or not Belichick would be hearing from the league. But the Patriots coach defended himself on Monday, pointing out a game in 2000 that was re-started after it was "over."

"I've coached in this league a long time, and I've never been penalized, never had any incidents with officials, or anything like that," said Belichick during his opening comments to the media on Monday. "I never meant any disrespect or in any way tried to abuse or be disrespectful to the officials and the job that they do. I was trying to get an explanation for, obviously, an important call, play in that game. And that's the number one thing -- between coaches and officials -- that's always at the forefront, just the communication of what's going on, what's happening.

"In 2000, here in Foxboro, with Johnny Grier as the referee, Drew Bledsoe was trying to throw a pass at the end of the game against Miami, and the ball was ruled a fumble. The clock ran out. The game was over. And then, as I was walking off the field with Johnny at that time, I talked to him how this seems like an incomplete pass, there should be more time on the clock, we should have another play here. But no, that was the ruling, the game was over. We go back into the locker room, and 10 minutes or so later, Johnny comes back and says they're reviewing the play and we may have to go back out and finish the game. Five minutes after that, the players got dressed, we came back out for a final play in that game.

"So, I've been through situations at the end of the game where it's over but it's not over, that type of thing," added Belichick. "And that was really the situation last night. I was just trying to get the official's attention to get an explanation on it. And in no way was I ever trying to do anything other than that. So, I have nothing further to add about that situation, but that's what happened."

Belichick refused to answer any questions about the final play or his contact with the official, but he did feel the need to discuss how important "communication" is between coaches and officials.

"As it relates to the officiating, that's always the number one thing," said Belichick. "From the time when we meet with the officials in the spring, to when the officials come to training camp. to before every game when we meet with the officials, both in pre game and also out on the field when we meet with the referee, the thing that we always communicate about is communication. We talk about communication.

"Sometimes the officials have the information, sometimes they don't. But when they don't, then they usually get back to you, as soon as they get it, after a TV timeout or after they've had a chance to talk to whoever it was that made the call. That's normal. That's just the way it is."

Van Noy sees playing-time bump as he learns Patriots language

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Van Noy sees playing-time bump as he learns Patriots language

When Kyle Van Noy was traded to the Patriots in late October, he had a lot to learn. He needed to understand the layout of his new team's maze-like facility. He needed to adjust to a new locker room. He needed to adapt to a new home. 

He also had to become fluent in a new language.

The former Lions 'backer was inactive for two weeks before he was comfortable enough with the Patriots system -- and the coaching staff was comfortable enough with him -- to get on the field. He played 29 snaps against the Niners in first game with his new club, then saw 28 plays against the Jets. On Sunday he saw his role expand as he played 40 of a possible 51 plays, which was more than Shea McClellin (38) or Dont'a Hightower (33). 

"Kyle has done a great job of working really hard to acclimate to what we’re doing, and he has had to learn really fast as far as the system, the communication, the language," said defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on a conference call Tuesday. "It’s like when you go to a different system, offensively or defensively, a lot of times it’s just learning the vernacular and the verbiage . . . That’s a big part of it. Then getting more familiar with that kind of terminology and the communication is critical because there’s a lot of calls and adjustments, things like that that we’ve got to do on the field."

Van Noy was making some of those calls himself on Sunday as he wore the green dot on his helmet when Hightower was on the sidelines. Even with the added responsibility, Van Noy was able to play freely enough that he put together what might have been the best game of his three-year career. 

Used at the end of the line of scrimmage as well as in a more traditional off-the-line linebacker role, Van Noy was effective in defending both the pass and the run: He stuffed three Rams rush attempts, he recorded a quarterback hit that led to an incompletion, he drew a holding call, and he recorded an athletic interception when he tracked a wobbling Jared Goff pass that floated over the middle after Jabaal Sheard hit Goff's arm as the rookie released his throw.

After several of his stand-out plays, Van Noy was visibly excited on the field and later on the sidelines. It was the culmination of six weeks of work, learning as much as he could from a coaching staff that was eager to teach him. 

"He’s extremely prideful in his work and his approach to the game," Patricia said. "He’s very cerebral. He’ll ask a lot of questions. He really wants to understand what we’re doing and why, which is great. We’re trying to give him those answers and insight into kind of where some of this either came from or developed or situations like that so that’s really good."