By HOWARD ULMAN, Associated Press
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady is staying out of the chorus of complainers about replacement officials. He says they're doing the best they can.
They're not responsible for the New England Patriots 1-2 start, the quarterback said Tuesday, putting the blame on himself and his team.
The morning after the Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers 14-12 on a touchdown that the NFL conceded shouldn't have been allowed, Brady said on WEEI radio, "I got a few text messages about" that play but didn't see it when it happened.
On Sunday night, the Patriots lost to the Baltimore Ravens 31-30 on a last-play field goal that came close to the right upright. Coach Bill Belichick grabbed the arm of an official who was heading off the field, but the official kept moving. Belichick explained Monday that he had wanted to ask if the play was reviewable.
"I feel like these guys are doing the best they can do," Brady said. "They're going to miss calls and so forth, and really, part of my job is not to worry about the officials, so I hate spending time talking about them, and I never have talked about the officials. The reason why we lost our particular game was certainly not because of the officials and that goes for all three of our games."
It would be "the easy way out" to blame officials for the losses, he said.
The critics of the officials replacing those the NFL locked out in a labor dispute — players, coaches, fans — have grown louder, especially after Monday night's game
NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson said Monday he is reviewing the conduct of Belichick and the Ravens' John Harbaugh in Sunday night's game.
In his regular Tuesday conference call with reporters, Belichick declined to say whether he had given the NFL his side of what happened after the field goal.
"I think I'll just keep all of that process private," he said. "Whatever the league has to say, any announcements or whatever they have to say, then they can make those or not make them whenever, if and when they decide to do it. I'll just leave all that to them."
The NFL waited a week before announcing on Monday that it had fined Denver Broncos coach John Fox $30,000 and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio $25,000 for arguing with replacement officials the previous Monday.
Belichick also said he had no reaction to the end of the Packers-Seahawks game and has been busy preparing for Sunday's road game against the Buffalo Bills.
"I really haven't had time to focus too much on any other games or any other teams or any of that," he said. "Seeing if I can do a better job of coaching the Patriots would be a good place for me to start."
On the final play from scrimmage in Seattle, Packers safety M.D. Jennings and Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate both got their hands on a pass into the end zone from Russell Wilson. The Packers insisted Jennings had clear possession for a game-ending interception. But officials ruled on the field that the two had possession at the same time, which counts as a reception.
The NFL said Tuesday that the referee was correct that no indisputable visual evidence existed on review to overturn the touchdown call, although that is not the same as confirming the on-field call was correct.
In Sunday's game at Baltimore, there were 24 accepted penalties — 14 against the Ravens and 10 against the Patriots. The last one, an obvious defensive pass interference call against New England cornerback Devin McCourty, set up Justin Tucker's decisive 27-yard field goal. In the Patriots opening 34-13 win over the Tennessee Titans, no flag was thrown on a blatant pass interference by McCourty against a receiver in the end zone.
Brady said he hasn't talked about officials with the other 10 offensive players when they're on the field.
"When you're in the course of a game, it feels very much like a normal game," he said. "You get a (penalty) call, then you see the next day (and think) 'Wow, should we have been called for that?' But it really feels like for us it's balanced out over the course of a game."
Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia downplayed anything he might do to prepare his players for replacement officials.
"We do a great job here of everybody understanding that you control what you can control," he said. "If we put all our effort and focus into what we can control, then we'll be all right."
But the Patriots have a losing record for the first time in nine seasons. And they couldn't hang on to a 30-21 lead midway through the fourth quarter because the offense couldn't run out the clock and the defense couldn't stop the Ravens.
"For me, it's been business as usual and I know, for our offense, that's the way it's been," Brady said. "We've got some calls. We haven't got some calls. We're sitting at 1-2, so I don't think there's really anyone to blame but ourselves."
And what about that winning field goal by the Ravens? Did the officials get it right?
"From the angle that I have, I can't tell," Brady said. "Those guys are standing (at) the uprights, so if they can't get it right, then nobody can."
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