Sometimes it is not what you do, but how you do it, that tells the story.
That was certainly the case Sunday night when New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick “Gronk spiked” a challenge flag right in front of one of the officials, letting that official — and the world — know just how disgusted he was with the spot on the play.
Late in the third quarter, with the Patriots trailing 17-3, New England faced a 3rd and 2 at the Miami Dolphins’ 25-yard line. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson took an inside handoff from Mac Jones and seemed to pick up the first down, but the officials spotted the running back just short of the line to gain.
Belichick, as you might expect given that the Patriots were trailing by 14, was not pleased. And he let everyone know it with how he challenged the play:
Rather than just casually tossing the flag on the field, the head coach looked right at the side judge, who was setting up the chains, and drove the flag into the turf at the official’s feet.
The NFL’s social media team event turned the sequence into a quick photo montage:
Unfortunately for Belichick and the Patriots, the ruling on the field was upheld. The team was forced to convert on fourth down, which they did with a Mac Jones quarterback sneak, but the quarterback was intercepted on the next play, and New England came away without any points on the drive.
Something that only increased Belichick’s blood pressure.
Belichick’s execution on challenge flag throws might be something to monitor this season. After all, Sunday night’s spike is just a small escalation of what we saw from the head coach in Week 1, when he challenged a play during New England’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles:
Sometimes in a new football season, you see some new things. While that typically involves new schematic elements, maybe Belichick’s “challenge spike” is another trend worth watching.