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Belichick won't allow Patriots to look back

FOXBOROUGH -- Upon further review . . .

Actually, you can stop right there. Because upon further review, Bill Belichick says there will still be no review.

A day after electing not to challenge a first-quarter touchdown by Carolina's Stephen Davis, the Patriots' coach remained unconvinced that tossing the bean bag onto the field to ask for a replay review would have resulted in the ruling being overturned.

''I didn't think there was enough evidence to warrant the challenge," Belichick said yesterday about the play that resulted in the first points allowed by the Patriots in a 27-17 defeat.

''We've all watched a million games," Belichick said. ''You can want to see something all you want. Sometimes you just don't get a good look at it. Sometimes you do.

''Sometimes it's there. Sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it's there and you don't see it."

Belichick said his vantage point from the sideline didn't provide a clear view of the play, and he has seen no video evidence that tells him that Davis didn't score.

''It's close," he said. ''I don't know whether it breaks the plane or not. It's pretty close."

Belichick may be unsure whether Davis scored, but some of his players are certain he didn't.

''He didn't get in," defensive end Richard Seymour said.

Added linebacker Willie McGinest, ''At the time on the field I couldn't see it, but obviously he didn't score."

The play came with 1 minute 20 seconds left in the first quarter and the Patriots leading, 7-0. The Panthers got into scoring position when the Patriots blew a coverage, ending up with linebacker Mike Vrabel trying to pick up receiver Ricky Proehl, who took advantage for a 41-yard gain.

Davis banged his way into the Patriots' short-yardage defense, and was met by Chad Brown and Matt Chatham. He stretched the ball toward the goal line, trying to break the plane.

Though one television angle seemed to indicate he didn't score, Belichick said there was no way to know whether the ruling would have been in the Patriots' favor. He referred to a 2-point conversion credited to the Rams' Marshall Faulk last season that he still feels should have been reversed.

''It would be good if the National Football League, as part of the instant-replay rule, had a camera, like they do in tennis, parallel to the goal line in every stadium so that as coach you knew at least that there would be a camera angle of that shot," Belichick said.

Even if the call were reversed, Belichick said, the ''best-case scenario would have been the ball on about the 1- or 2-inch line."

McGinest said the Patriots' defenders would take their chances there rather than concede the 6 points.

''We don't want them in the end zone. Of course we don't want anybody to score on us," McGinest said. ''That's something you take pride in -- goal-line stances. Anytime you can prevent a touchdown, you want to do that.

''Bill makes the challenge decisions. We just kept playing. We didn't think he got in. [Replay] showed that he didn't. I saw it, but you can't cry over spilt milk. You've got to buckle up and keep playing."

An afternoon of mistake-filled football was more responsible for the loss than a possible blown opportunity at overturning a touchdown in the first quarter.

The tone for the bad day at the office was set well before the first coffee break.

Tackle Matt Light flinched before the first snap of the game, costing the Patriots 5 yards, the first of six such mental errors.

After setting up for first and 15, quarterback Tom Brady drilled a pass to David Givens, who had the ball go through his hands for the first of six dropped passes.

''We weren't playing Patriot football," Givens said. ''We weren't on the same page the whole game, really. We just didn't play well.

''You can always bounce back throughout the course of a game, but it seemed like everything just kept going wrong for us. We couldn't bounce back this time."

Bounce-back was something the Patriots needed more of because of their poor starts. On six of their 13 possessions, they failed to make even one first down, and on two others, they managed a single move of the chains. On those eight possessions, New England netted 10 yards.

Worse, the Patriots were backed up a total of 23 yards on the first downs that started the six three-and-out possessions. (On one of the possessions, there were three plays but no punt because the first half ended). And it could have been worse, but one false start penalty cost only 2 yards because the Patriots started at their own 4.

''Most of the game, we were in longer yardage situations," Belichick said. ''Penalties, negative plays in the running game, and some first-down incompletions. Our first-down production wasn't very good, and that led to problems on second and third down."

Belichick said improvement in all areas was needed, but first-down inefficiency, penalties (12), and poor coverage on special teams (21.3-yard return average for Carolina) were most often brought up by the players in the locker room yesterday.

''We just have to do a better job, that's all there is to it," Belichick said. ''I think we're a better football team than we showed there yesterday -- at least I hope we are -- but we're going to have to play to it and coach to it. There's really not much more to say."

Jerome Solomon can be reached at

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