FOXBORO -- Even for Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who is 40 years into his NFL coaching career, the preseason is a time for fine-tuning.
During the third quarter of Friday night's game between the Patriots and Eagles, there was a close play in which Shane Vereen may have scored a touchdown but was marked out of bounds before reaching the end zone's front-right pylon.
The Patriots called a timeout before Belichick threw his red challenge flag, forcing the officials to take a second look. They eventually overturned their initial ruling and awarded the Patriots a touchdown, but Belichick admitted that his deliberate decision-making caused him to burn a timeout.
"It was a close play there at the goal line," Belichick said. "Initially we werent sure. Talked to the people up in the booth. Kind of told Josh [McDaniels] . . . but he wasn't sure whether I was gonna challenge or not so I had him hold off for a second. I took too long on that. By the time that actually I made a decision -- well, I didn't make a decision -- we were at 15 seconds and Josh couldn't talk to the quarterback because the coach-to-quarterback [headset communication system] shut off at that point. So there was really no way for him to even send in a play to the quarterback at that point. Because I had already used that time.
"We tried to sort that situation out. After the timeout, that obviously gave us more of an opportunity to look at it. It was a close play, but in the end we felt it was a touchdown. Then we made the challenge. Once we took the timeout, we knew we had a maximum amount of time to look at it. I think in the end it cost us a timeout, but I think when we made the challenge we were very confident that the challenge would be upheld. In our mind, that part of it was worth it."