Longtime New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick reiterated his stance NFL coaches should be able to challenge potential game-altering plays under two minutes.
Buffalo Bills receiver Gabe Davis’ 20-yard reception in the final minute of their game against the Minnesota Vikings was ruled complete, but was not reviewed by officials in the booth or league office in New York.
The pass was instrumental in helping the Bills force overtime against the Minnesota Vikings, although Buffalo lost 33-30 at home.
“That play could’ve been reviewed by the officials because it was under two minutes. Either it wasn’t, or they missed it – however you want to characterize it, I don’t know,” Belichick said during an appearance on WEEI on Monday morning.
“But to me, that would be an example of a play that the team should have an opportunity to challenge if they want to and if they have a challenge left.”
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NFL coaches are not permitted to challenge plays in the final two minutes of the first half or end of regulation – a rule the NFL’s competition committee may table again after the comments from the league’s winningest coach.
“There have been other examples of that, and teams couldn’t challenge because in two minutes, the rules prohibited it from being challenged,” Belichick added.
“Not having the ability to challenge a play that could impact the outcome of the game – calls like holding and pass interference, things like that – I don’t see why those plays can’t be reviewed. But again, that’s not my decision. It is what it is.”
NFL senior vice president of officiating Walt Anderson, in a pool report after the Vikings-Bills game, said play should have been stopped to review the Davis catch immediately after it happened.
“We were able – several plays after – to look at all the angles,” Anderson said. “It would have been reversed to an incomplete pass because he did not maintain control of the ball after he hit the ground and the ball touched the ground out of bounds.”
Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said he asked for clarification from officials during the game on the Davis play, but did not receive any.
“It was right in front of me. I didn’t think that was a catch,” said O’Connell, whose team improved to 8-1 in his first season as Vikings coach.
“In that mode, that needs to be something that either is from up top [in the press box with the replay official], or possibly New York [at the replay center]. We didn’t get any clarification on that. I did ask.”
Belichick, during his Monday Zoom press conference with local media, added: “Provided the team has a challenge, they should have the opportunity to challenge really any play. I’m on record on that.”