Bill Belichick is done with Monday night's loss to the Panthers. You may have heard something about how that ended -- with a Tom Brady interception in the end zone as the clock read 00:00, while a Carolina defender was draped all over Rob Gronkowski. A flag had been thrown because, as everybody could see as plain as day, there was pass interference ... except that the officials decided that Brady's throw was "uncatchable." Game over.
To bring home that point, Belichick showed his team the final moments of an otherwise meaningless 2009 meeting between two 1-8 teams: the Browns and the Lions. With Detroit trailing and seconds on the clock, quarterback Matthew Stafford threw a 40-yard pass into the end zone ... that was intercepted.
Well, here's the difference: the Browns were flagged for pass interference because a defensive back never turned to find the ball -- much like the Panthers' linebacker draped all over Gronk Monday night. With one more play from the one-yard line, the Lions scored the winning touchdown.
So why would Belichick, who isn't one to publicly complain about missed calls or bad luck, show his team this footage? ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss has a few theories:
First, to share with them his belief (we presume) that the Patriots got jobbed. While Belichick has repeated to media members the past two days that any officiating inquiries should be directed to the league office, it makes sense to think he'd strike a different tone with his own players, letting them know he believes in them and that they deserved better.
But then one considers that Belichick is seldom, if ever, one to use injuries or officiating as an excuse.
So maybe, in addition to expressing belief in his players, he wanted to reinforce how these are the things that can happen if business isn't taken care of earlier in a game. Leave it in the hands of officials, and it's a roll of the dice, so don't let it get to that point.
It's all very Belichick-ian, but if the Patriots are going to avoid a last-second play being left in the hands of fallible officials, they'll need to have their best effort of the season Sunday night when Peyton Manning and the Broncos come to town.