Pa­tri­ots go from very bad luck to very bad look

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - By Arnie Sta­ple­ton AP Pro Foot­ball Writer

One day, things aren’t look­ing good at all for the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots. The next, the de­fend­ing champs are grap­pling with a very bad look.

A day after of­fi­ci­at­ing blun­ders and an­other poor pass­ing per­for­mance by Tom Brady were the big­gest take­aways from New Eng­land’s first home loss in two years, the Pa­tri­ots ac­knowl­edged that a video crew work­ing for the team filmed the Cincin­nati side­line dur­ing the Ben­gals’ game at Cleve­land.

Cincin­nati plays New Eng­land this week­end.

Yes, an­other cam­era-spy­ing flap from the team that brought the term “Spy­gate” into the NFL lex­i­con in 2007 when the Pa­tri­ots were caught video­tap­ing op­pos­ing team sig­nals in a scan­dal that cost them a first-round draft pick and $250,000 and made Bill Belichick’s bank ac­count $500,000 lighter.

Cru­cial calls made in the fi­nal minute of the Dol­phin­sJets game and the 49ers-Saints show­down in a wild Week 14 were over­shad­owed by the Pa­tri­ots’ mush­room­ing prob­lems.

In a state­ment posted on Twit­ter and the team web­site, the Pa­tri­ots said a three-per­son crew for a web se­ries ti­tled “Do Your Job” “in­ap­pro

pri­ately filmed the field from the press box” as part of a fea­ture on the scout­ing depart­ment. The film­ing took place “with­out spe­cific knowl­edge of league rules,” the state­ment said.

The Pa­tri­ots said the Browns, the home team, granted the crew cre­den­tials but in an “un­in­tended over­sight,” the team failed to in­form the Ben­gals or the NFL and when con­fronted, the crew “im­me­di­ately turned over all footage to the league and co­op­er­ated fully,” the team said.

Spy­gate, as The AP’s Jimmy Golen wrote, helped fuel a wide­spread dis­trust of the team that re­ver­ber­ated a decade later when the Pa­tri­ots were ac­cused of il­le­gally de­flat­ing foot­balls used in the 2015 AFC cham­pi­onship game. Brady was sus­pended four games, and the team was fined $1 mil­lion and docked an­other first-round draft pick.

A few years after Spy­gate, Josh McDaniels, who was head coach in Den­ver be­tween stints as Brady’s of­fen­sive play caller, was fired in the af­ter­math of a video scan­dal in which Steve Scarnec­chia, the son of long­time Pa­tri­ots of­fen­sive line coach Dante Scarnec­chia and who fol­lowed McDaniels to Den­ver, il­le­gally filmed the 49ers’ prac­tice ahead of a 2010 game against the Bron­cos in Lon­don.

Asked about the lat­est vex­ing video­tape re­ports dur­ing his ra­dio show on Mon­day, Belichick told WEEI the video crew was com­pletely sep­a­rate from the foot­ball staff: “We have ab­so­lutely noth­ing to do with any­thing that they pro­duce or di­rect or shoot. I have never seen any of their tapes or any­thing else. This is some­thing that we 100% have zero in­volve­ment with.”

It hardly seems nec­es­sary for the Pa­tri­ots (10-3) to need spe­cial in­tel on the sig­nals of the Ben­gals (1-12). Then again, the Pa­tri­ots’ past rap sheet means foot­ball fans out­side New Eng­land don’t give them the ben­e­fit of the doubt.

On Sun­day, the Pa­tri­ots didn’t get the calls that seem­ingly al­ways went their way at Gil­lette Sta­dium.

There were three big ques­tion­able rul­ings by ref­eree Jerome Boger’s crew in New Eng­land’s 23-16 loss to Kansas City:

1. Travis Kelce’s fum­ble in the wan­ing sec­onds of the third quar­ter. Hit by Devin McCourty, the Chiefs tight end fum­bles the foot­ball and Stephon Gil­more re­cov­ers with plenty of room to run to­ward the end zone. The play is blown dead, how­ever, and Kelce ruled down by con­tact. Belichick uses his fi­nal chal­lenge and the call is over­turned. New Eng­land gets the ball at its 43.

2. The Pa­tri­ots quickly drive to the Kansas City 15 and N’Keal Harry is ruled out of bounds at the 3 after an ap­par­ent touch­down catch from Brady with 13:22 re­main­ing in the game. TV re­plays show Harry stayed in­bounds on what should have been ruled a score.

Belichick is out of challenges after los­ing one in which he asked for a bet­ter spot and of­fen­sive pass in­ter­fer­ence on a play ear­lier in the game but lost on both counts.

Three plays later, New Eng­land set­tled for a field goal to get to 23-16.

“I thought it was a touch­down,” Harry said. “I’m pretty sure ev­ery­one else saw it was a touch­down.” Nope. Boger told a pool re­porter after the game that the cov­er­ing of­fi­cial on the Harry play was blocked out by de­fend­ers.

“The down­field of­fi­cial who was on the goal line and look­ing back to­ward the field of play had that he stepped out at the 3-yard line,” Boger said. “So, they got to­gether and con­ferred on that. The fi­nal rul­ing was that he was out of bounds at the 3-yard line.”

Be­cause all scor­ing plays are re­viewed, a rul­ing of touch­down would have ul­ti­mately got­ten the call right, but Boger said he wasn’t in­clined to over­rule his crew mates to get to the fail-safe au­to­matic re­view.

“Those two of­fi­cials who are cov­er­ing it, they look at it in real time,” Boger said. “This case was unique in that the guy who would have ruled touch­down had him short. So maybe if the rul­ing of­fi­cial on the goal line had a touch­down, we could have got­ten into that, but he thought that that guy stepped out of bounds. The goal line wasn’t in the play.”


New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady ap­peals to down judge Pa­trick Holt that wide re­ceiver N’Keal Harry had scored a touch­down in the sec­ond half of an NFL foot­ball game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sun­day, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass.


New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots head coach Bill Belichick, cen­ter, ar­gues a call in the sec­ond half of an NFL foot­ball game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sun­day, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass.


New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots wide re­ceiver N’Keal Harry runs for the goal line after catch­ing a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs in the sec­ond half of an NFL foot­ball game, Sun­day, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass.The play was not ruled a touch­down.

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