There was a lot at stake during the New England Patriots-Indianapolis Colts matchup on Saturday night, so it’s easy to understand why tempers boiled over as much as they did during the game.
With the loss, the Patriots surrendered their grip on the AFC’s No. 1 seed. The Colts, on the other hand, jumped up a few spots to the No. 5 seed and are now nipping at Tennessee’s heels in the AFC South.
These emotions came to a head in the third quarter, when Kyle Dugger and Michael Pittman got ejected following a skirmish. There was shoving back and forth, and Dugger pulled off Pittman’s helmet before taking an apparent swing at the Colts receiver, who didn’t help matters by continuing to retaliate.
It was an ugly look for both players. So ugly, in fact, that it distracted from a similarly-shameful act by one TY Hilton, as video showed the Colts vet shoving a ref, who was trying to play peacemaker, to the ground during the brawl.
The clip even prompted a reaction from Bill Belichick.
Patriots HC Bill Belichick wasn’t happy TY Hilton didn’t get ejected for shoving a ref to the ground on Saturday.
"“Bottom line is both players got ejected. I would say I understand that, whether I agree with it or not,” Belichick said, per Dakota Randall of NESN.“That’s a whole other discussion. I don’t understand why T.Y. Hilton wasn’t ejected for contacting an official; intentionally or unintentionally, that has no bearing on the play. And those plays are reviewable and are reviewed. So, I don’t understand that one. You’d have to talk to the officials about that — they’re the ones that made the call.”"
Hilton is a consummate professional and is respected around the NFL, so we’re not accusing him of being a dirty player. He didn’t even look at whom he shoved, so he likely assumed it was a Pats player that was trying to provoke more pushing.
However, seeing that it’s forbidden for players to put their hands on officials, this was grounds for an ejection, was it not?
Sure seems like it. The weird thing in all this is that the ref clearly noticed it was Hilton who pushed him. And yet, he did nothing. That makes us think he realized the 32-year-old didn’t have malicious intent.
On the flip side, if you’re going by the letter of the law like Belichick, Hilton should’ve been tossed. It’s as simple as that.
Even if the ref didn’t want to eject another player (which is commendable), why not throw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct? We hate refs shows as much as the next fan, but Hilton’s shove at least warranted some yellow laundry.
Belichick apologized to the media on Monday for his short temper following Saturday’s loss. Something tells us the 69-year-old won’t be expressing remorse towards NFL officiating for blasting this egregious non-call.
Nor should he.