FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - The New England Patriots put up big numbers in their preseason win over the Philadelphia Eagles - 476 yards, 35 first downs and nearly 40 minutes in time of possession.
The officials racked up their own impressive statistics by calling 28 penalties, with 21 accepted.
They were merely following through on the NFL’s message that more flags would be thrown for defensive contact with receivers.
It got to a point that Patriots coach Bill Belichick was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for arguing, in vain, against a penalty on the opponent. The Eagles were called for defensive pass interference even though wide receiver Julian Edelman caught Tom Brady’s long pass.
After New England’s 42-35 win Friday night, a reporter asked Belichick for clarification of the play.
“Yeah,” the usually dour coach said to a roomful of laughter, “I was trying to get it myself.”
Coaches and players will figure it out for themselves the more they practice and play under the new emphasis on giving receivers more space to run their patterns.
“We have to do the best that we can by being comfortable with the new rules and trying to do the right things out there on the field,” Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis said.
There were 11 penalties against the Patriots and 10 against the Eagles - with seven others declined.
Of the 28 penalties called, 15 were against the defense, 12 against the offense and one on an enraged Belichick’s foray onto the field after the pass to Edelman.
“Who knows if it will continue? But they’re calling things pretty tight,” Tom Brady said. “Coach always says, ‘Do business as business is being done.’ So if they’re going to call it tight . you know, we got a few extra opportunities out of it; they got a few extra opportunities out of it. It’s going to be who plays the smartest, I guess.”
On Friday, it was the Patriots.
The Eagles were called for 11 defensive penalties to four for the Patriots, including those declined. Nine of Philadelphia’s were for defensive pass interference, defensive holding, illegal contact or illegal use of the hands.
“I think if they’re helping us, then I don’t have any problem with it,” Brady said.
The Patriots were much sharper than in their 23-6 loss to the Washington Redskins in their preseason opener. Brady sat that out and New England didn’t score until 1:23 was left in the game.