Patriots ‘Forced To Go Old School’ After Headsets Stop Working Against The Bengals

By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — It’s become a cliché around here, but it’s painfully true: if the roles were reversed in this situation, the uproar against the Patriots would be insufferable.

One year after the Pittsburgh Steelers had problems of their own with their headsets in Gillette Stadium when they faced the Patriots to kick off the 2015 season, on Sunday it was New England who had to deal with faulty headsets during their 35-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. A source told CSNNE’s Tom E. Curran that the Patriots eventually had to do away with the headsets altogether and “were forced to go old school” as Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia signaled plays from the sidelines to the players on the field.

The Patriots also had problems with their Microsoft Surface tablets on the sidelines, according to Curran’s report.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin infamously raised a stink after the Patriots defeated Pittsburgh 28-21 in Week 1 of the 2015 season, complaining that he was hearing the 98.5 The Sports Hub radio broadcast with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak. As it usually does with the Patriots, some fresh controversy flared up in the wake of Tomlin’s hissy-fit for a week or two.

Don’t expect much national coverage of this one. There’s nary a mention of the headset issues on ESPN. Of course, it didn’t matter in the end, as the Patriots rode a strong second half to victory anyway, but it’s just a prime example of the hypocrisy that exists in how the Patriots are covered on a national scale. It also shows how the Patriots organization is “not built on excuses,” as a fed-up Bill Belichick said in a conference call last season, considering that the coaches didn’t even bring it up after the game.

Thankfully, the Bengals apparently didn’t have similar communication problems with their headsets, which have long been an issue on both sides of the field at Gillette Stadium. They didn’t need help from the Patriots to self-destruct.

Matt Dolloff is a writer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at


One Comment

  1. Tom says:

    So do you expect an NFL investigation into why the Patriots own headsets didn’t work at Gillette Stadium? If the Patriots are the “First Class” organization they say they are – surely they could resolve headphone issues. I wonder how much more quickly they will do so now – that it impacted them and not some unsuspecting opponent.

    1. lizzzy321 says:

      Tom – You’ve missed the entire point of the article. The Patriots handled the headset drama the way they should – took responsibility to be prepared for that situation and switched to ‘old school’ hand signals. Didn’t blame their level of play on the malfunction, didn’t draw attention to it, didn’t accuse anyone of sabotaging their equipment. Won the game any way. I watched the game on Sunday and didn’t even know they had trouble with the headsets.

      And headset issues have plagued the League, not just Gilette stadium. And of course, they have attempted to fix them, but some of the issues are with interference that are difficult to resolve, or it would have been fixed by now. And btw, isn’t it the responsibility of the NFL to maintain the communication equipment?

      Your comment is typical of a non Patriot fan, who will immediately put a negative spin on anything Patriots based on personal bias. Even when the Patriots are excelling at taking care of their business better than anyone else in the League has done with these equipment issues, without whining about it.

  2. awais irshad says:

    Headsets is a electronic thing. this reason it’s anytime get off with working.

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