New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick defended Patriots safety Patrick Chung on Sunday evening after Chung was flagged for a 15-yard unnecessary-roughness penalty in New England's 23-16 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
With less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne targeted receiver Cecil Shorts over the middle, with Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty trailing in coverage. Chung lowered his shoulder and struck Shorts in the helmet, forcing an incompletion.
"I don't know. They're going to have to take a closer look at them," Belichick said when asked about the play. "I don't know. I mean, I don't know what he could have done. I don't know."
Shorts was injured on the play, and walked off the field slowly with several members of the Jaguars' training staff. He did not return to the game. Shorts had returned last week after missing a game with a concussion suffered in Week 13 on a hit from Buffalo Bills safety Ron Brooks.
As many as five officials threw flags on Chung's hit, which gave the Jaguars the ball at the New England 47-yard line, kick-starting a last-minute drive that ended on a Chung interception.
Vince Wilfork also defended Chung's hit.
"I don't think he was trying to hurt the guy," Wilfork said. "But sometimes it happens, sometimes it looks like intentions, but me personally, I don't think he was out trying to make a head-to-head shot like that. It's football, sometimes you get bad breaks, sometimes you get situations where you have to be able to -- it's a ball and it's a defender, and you have to make a decision. It's a split second. Nobody understands that except for the guy being in that position.
"That was just one of those things where you have to make a choice in a split second, and sometimes it'll cost you, sometimes it won't. And this time it cost us a penalty, and I'm pretty sure he'll be getting a letter [from the commissioner]... I hate anybody injured, that's the last thing I like, but sometimes it happens. ... You have to be able to move forward from it. You definitely do. And he did, he moved forward and he made probably the best play of the game to seal it for us."