FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – The replay is clear to Patriots players.

Carolina’s Stephen Davis fumbled before reaching the goal line but was credited with a touchdown. It gave the Panthers a 6-3 lead in Sunday’s 27-17 win over New England, but the Patriots still might have led 3-0 had coach Bill Belichick decided to challenge the call.

Instead, he used the play Monday to renew his call for the NFL to put cameras at the ends of each goal line – similar to those placed on lines in tennis matches – to give replay officials an accurate view with which to judge challenges by coaches.

“It’s been brought up many times, but the league refuses to do it,” Belichick said. If implemented, “if you do challenge that play, then there’s absolutely one look at it and that will tell you did the ball cross (the goal line) or didn’t it cross it.”

He wouldn’t say if the NFL gave him a reason for not adding the cameras.

“I don’t want to get involved in that,” Belichick said. “Just talk to them. I’m sure they have an answer for everything.”

Clubs vote on the instant replay format and “there has never been any consensus to use cameras for replay other than those of the televising network,” AFC spokesman Steve Alic said in response to an e-mail.

The current system is in place through the 2008 season.

Belichick said he didn’t have a good view of the play from the field and “I didn’t think there was enough evidence to warrant the challenge.”

He said he later viewed the coaches’ tapes of the game and “I still don’t think there is” but added, “I don’t know whether it breaks the plane or not. It’s pretty close.”

His players disagreed Monday. “Not even close,” linebacker Monty Beisel said when asked if the ball had touched the plane of the goal line while Davis had possession.

“Obviously, he didn’t score,” linebacker Willie McGinest said, but “Bill makes the challenging decisions.”

“No,” said defensive end Richard Seymour. “He didn’t get in.”

Seymour had a good view of the play and complained to officials on the field. He said he was told by one of them that Davis fumbled and an offensive lineman recovered in the end zone.

But, Seymour said, “they gave the touchdown to Stephen Davis, so something ain’t right.”

It came with 1:13 left in the first quarter so the Patriots still had plenty of time left to win the game. But 12 penalties and poor play on special teams and in the running game hurt. Even if the play had been challenged and the call overturned, Belichick said the Panthers still would have a second down inside the 1-yard line.

“Make no mistake about it,” Seymour said. “That (touchdown) wasn’t the reason that we lost that football game.”

Still, on Monday, Belichick spent a large part of his 20-minute meeting with reporters discussing it.

Head coaches can check replays on stadium scoreboards and get input from assistants watching replays in their booth.

“Sometimes, it just depends on the angle,” Belichick said. “Whatever camera angles the network feeds have, that’s what you have to go by.

“The only way you’re going to get a good, true evaluation of that play is to put a camera parallel to the goal line.”

AP-ES-09-19-05 1934EDT


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