FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday that Indianapolis Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton should have been ejected from Saturday’s game for pushing an official to the ground, and questioned the NFL’s officiating department why he wasn’t.
Belichick was speaking for the first time since having a chance to review his team’s 27-17 loss to the Colts, and had been asked about the third-quarter ejections of Patriots safety Kyle Dugger and Colts receiver Michael Pittman Jr..
Dugger and Pittman scrapped after a running play, and soon enough, it became a larger scrum. As order was attempting to be restored, Hilton was seen pushing umpire Tra Blake to the ground.
Belichick seemed as peeved about that as Dugger and Pittman being ejected.
“Bottom line is both players got ejected. I would say I understand that. Whether I agree with it or not, that’s a whole another discussion. [But] I don’t understand why T.Y. Hilton wasn’t ejected for contacting an official. Intentionally or unintentionally, that has no bearing on the play. And those plays are reviewable and are reviewed,” he said.
“You’d have to talk to the officials about that. They’re the ones that made the call.”
In 2018, the NFL instituted a rule change allowing the league’s command center in New York to eject players for a non-football act such as punching or fighting.
Belichick’s ire seems to be directed to the command center reviewing the video of the Dugger/Pittman scrum on Saturday night to assist referee Carl Cheffers’ decision-making process, and not taking such an action with Hilton, the Colts’ No. 2 receiver who later made a 19-yard catch.
“Based on the rule, I don’t see why T.Y. Hilton wasn’t ejected. I mean, he pushed an official. That was pretty clear. But that wasn’t called at all. That’s a clear-cut ejection to me,” he said.
Belichick said he has spoken with his players regularly about situations similar to what unfolded with Dugger and Pittman.
As for what led up to the two being ejected after a 7-yard run by running back Jonathan Taylor, Belichick shared his viewpoint of what happened.
“Pittman comes from behind, Kyle turns around, there’s an exchange,” Belichick said. “Pittman’s helmet was off, he was trying to put his helmet on as he approached Kyle at the end of the play. So it came off pretty quickly; I don’t know whether Kyle knocked it off or it would have come off anyway, or whatever.”
One detail that Belichick didn’t include in his explanation was Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy shoving Pittman from behind, which further escalated an already-tense situation.
As is the case with every play in every game, the league will review it and determine if any players will be fined.
Meanwhile, Belichick opened his Monday morning video conference with something unexpected: An apology for his postgame news conference late Saturday night.
Belichick had fielded questions for more than six minutes that night, but repeated a version of the same answer to many questions — that the team didn’t play or coach well enough.
“I’ve said it like five times. I could just say it another five times — we didn’t do anything well enough to win tonight,” he said.
On Monday morning, Belichick was set to take an opening question in his video conference when he instead opened with a comment.
“I apologize if it seemed like I was a little short with you after the game,” he said. “Obviously a frustrating game. Down 20-0. Didn’t do anything well enough. I mean, there isn’t really much to say at that point without watching the film.
“Clearly we had problems in every area. So there’s no simple answer. Every play could have been better. Every area of coaching could have been better. Every area of playing could have been better. Any of that would have helped. Not really trying to be short, but honestly, there wasn’t too much to say. I don’t know that there’s a whole lot more to say now. But it’s not your fault. It was a frustrating game.”