By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Bill Belichick has the world’s greatest poker face when he’s behind a microphone and speaking to reporters. But on the field, in the heat of NFL battle, the coach often doesn’t hide his emotions in any way.
The latest person to be reminded of that tendency was referee Scott Novak, who was in charge of the officiating during Sunday’s game between the Patriots and Broncos.
Belichick felt as though his pass rushers were being held, and thanks to the wonderful technology of mic’d up head coaches, we know that Bill let Novak know in no uncertain terms that the Broncos’ offensive line was getting away with holding.
“Scott, you know, we’re getting tackled there on that play-action. I mean, I don’t know how you let that go when they tackle him from behind,” Belichick said in a mic’d up clip from NFL Films. “On this play-action right here, about the 40-yard line, on the last drive. I mean, yeah! He tackles him. Like, come on, man!”
To really hammer home his point, Belichick said it’s a real problem with the Broncos’ O-line.
“Like this line,” a flustered Belichick said, “that’s all they do is punch in the face and hold.”
Footage of the clip made its way to social media on Wednesday:
Belichick pulled "C'mon man!" on the ref 🤣pic.twitter.com/jB7iZC32vp
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 21, 2020
While it’s unclear which play Belichick was referring to in the clip, it wasn’t hard to find a play that fit the description. Here’s a play-action pass on the 40 with a case of what looked to be holding, early in the second quarter.
Denver left tackle Garett Bolles did appear to grab a hold of Shilique Calhoun on that play, which went for an incompletion.
While Belichick had a legitimate gripe on that particular play, Novak’s crew mostly stayed out of the way in this game. Denver was hit with just two penalties — an intentional delay of game, and a kick catch interference, both of which were obvious calls — while New England was penalized just once (for four yards). Belichick’s griping might have helped the Patriots get a call in the third quarter, when offensive lineman Demar Dotson was flagged for illegal use of hands when he clearly pushed back the facemask of Chase Winovich.
Belichick, though, declined that penalty, instead challenging Brandon McManus to kick a 54-yard field goal — a challenge the kicker answered with relative ease.