The NFL might fine but probably not suspend New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick for grabbing an official after Sunday night's loss to the Baltimore Ravens, according to the NFL Network.
The network was told by a source Monday that Belichick possibly faces a fine for illegal touching.
Belichick chased down an official after being denied a chance to challenge a missed field goal as the Patriots fell 31-30 to the Ravens. The play was not eligible for a challenge since the ball was kicked over the uprights.
Though the contact between Belichick and the official appeared to be minor, the league had warned coaches last week not to intimidate the replacement officials
On Monday, Belichick explained his actions, saying he meant no disrespect to the officials but was trying to find out whether the Ravens' game-winning field goal was under review. (Several Patriots players claimed Justin Tucker's field goal was wide.)
"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," Belichick said in a statement at the beginning of his Monday news conference. "But I saw players waving that it was no good, then I saw the officials giving the signal that it was good, and I just wasn't sure from where I was standing whether the ball, when it went over the crossbar, 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 crossbar, over the top of the upright rather, then it's not reviewable. I couldn't tell, from my angle, when the ball crossed the crossbar, 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. 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."
Ray Anderson, the NFL executive vice president of football operations, said in a statement that the league is reviewing the incident as well as the conduct of Ravens coach John Harbaugh.
"I've coached in this league a long time," Belichick said Monday, according to ESPNBoston.com. "I've never been penalized, never had any incidents with officials or anything like that. I have 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. That's the No. 1 thing between coaches and officials, it's always at the forefront, just communication of what's going on and what's happening."
Belichick mentioned a game in 2000, his first year as Patriots coach, in which quarterback Drew Bledsoe was ruled to have fumbled as time expired in a game against the Dolphins.
"As I was walking off the field with (referee Johnny Grier) at that time, I talked to him about, 'This seems like an incomplete pass, there should be more time on the clock, we should have another play here,'" Belichick said. "(His response was) 'No, that's the ruling, the game's over.' We go back into the locker room, 10 minutes or so later, Johnny comes back and says they are reviewing the play and we may have to go back out and finish the game. About five minutes after that, players got dressed, we came back out for a final play in that game.
"So I've been through a situation at the end of a game where it's over but it's not over, that type of thing. That was really the situation last night. I was trying to get the official's attention to get an explanation on it. In no way was I ever trying to do anything other than that."