The New England Patriots lost against the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football. They lost the game with a final score of 38-9. They lost their chance at ending their season at .500. They lost an opportunity to keep their record streak alive of consecutive seasons without getting swept by a division rival. And they also lost their cool. Well, not the entire team only the man at its top: head coach Bill Belichick.
Early in the third quarter and with the Patriots already down 24-9, the team attempted a challenge to overturn a 15-yard pass completion. The play stood as called, New England lost a timeout just 12 seconds into the half, and Belichick was visibly irritated. Not with the officiating crew’s decision to confirm the call on the field, but rather with his own supporting staff.
What followed was the third instance in the last four years of Belichick being captured by the cameras destroying technology on the sidelines. Let’s go through each of those instances.
October 2, 2016: Patriots vs Bills
During the 2015 AFC Championship Game in Denver, the Patriots repeatedly struggled with the tablets provided by Microsoft. The issue itself did not directly lead to New England’s loss that day, but it added another layer of frustration to what was already a disappointing game. That frustration carried over into the 2016 season, when Belichick again struggled with the tablets — so much so that he destroyed one in early October:
During New England’s 16-0 loss to the Bills — a game that saw third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett get the start in place of a suspended Tom Brady and injured Jimmy Garoppolo — Belichick calmly walked to the area behind the bench, took his tablet, and slammed it. A short time after the game, he went on a 761-word rant about the unreliability of the tablets that ended with this announcement:
“It’s a personal decision, I’m done with the tablets. I’ll use the paper pictures from here on because I’ve given it my best shot. I’ve tried to work through the process but it just doesn’t work for me and that’s because there’s no consistency to it.”
January 20, 2019: Patriots at Chiefs
Fast forward to the 2018 AFC Championship between New England and Kansas City and another tablet-based incident involving Belichick and the Microsoft Surface. This time, however, it seem as if the technology was not the reason for his anger but rather that the officiating crew failed to recognize a pick play on a game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Belichick showed the play to an official, but was not happy with the conversation.
As a result, he took his frustration out on his tablet not once but twice:
no man has hated a product more than Bill Belichick hates the Microsoft Surface Tablet (TM)— Darnell Mooney appreciator (@TrainIsland) January 21, 2019
HE PICKED IT UP JUST TO THROW IT AGAIN pic.twitter.com/x2s79CSgLz
First, Belichick slammed it to the ground. Later, he picked it up to throw it behind the Patriots’ bench.
Compared to the more famous outburst two seasons earlier, this one flew under the radar a bit. This might have to do with the game itself: the Patriots and Chiefs went on to exchange field goals after that touchdown, with New England eventually winning the overtime coin toss, driving the length of the field, and advancing to the Super Bowl for a third year in a row.
December 28, 2020: Patriots vs Bills
This brings us back to a moment from Monday night’s game between the Patriots and Bills. As mentioned above, Belichick threw the challenge flag on a 15-yard pass from Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen to Dawson Knox. The play stood as called — a good decision based on the replay — and Belichick let out his frustrations about wasting a timeout this early in the second half on the sideline phone:
One underrated aspect of that clip is the man in the yellow hat, who looks at the phone as Belichick walked away. That man is Dan Famosi, New England’s long-time IT specialist, and he quickly identifies the issue to address it. Doing his job under intense pressure — Belichick certainly would be proud had he not just killed a phone out of frustration.