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He won't take sides in coin flap

FOXBOROUGH -- Sunday's overtime coin flip fiasco stemmed from confusion over which side was "heads," which was "tails," and whether referee Gerry Austin inadvertently turned the coin on its "heads" or "Lady Columbia" side, giving Miami possession to start the extra period.

Ultimately, that didn't keep the Patriots from winning the game -- in fact, it may have helped, as Miami was forced to attempt a field goal from the infield dirt at Pro Player Stadium -- but should such a situation should arise again, it might help if NFL referees go to a standard coin.

Pressed on the matter yesterday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said, "I'm not going to comment on the whole situation. No. It's not the exact same coin all the time."

Asked if the league should adopt a "special" coin, Belichick said, "We can all have opinions on that. My thing is that I want to try and control what I can control. Whatever they do, they have to try and do their job, and I'm sure they're working to do their job better. My focus is on trying to do my job better, get the team ready to go, make sure I understand the rules, make sure I know what the way it is supposed to be done. If they miss it, they miss it. Hopefully they'll get it right the next time. We need to try to do it right."

Behave yourself

The Patriots came into the game as the third-most-penalized team in the league, but had only five accepted penalties. "Even though there were certainly a lot of close calls in the game, I thought, from a penalty standpoint, we were better as a team than what we had been, and that was good," said Belichick. "Our penalty yardage was as low as it's been in a while [34], and the number of penalties was down, and that was good. There were a couple of close calls, there's no doubt about that, and I'm not sure that I saw them the way they were called all the way around. Regardless [if] something happens outside the box, then we have to play through it just like everybody else does."

Law called 'close'

Though Ty Law missed the game and had a cast placed on his injured right ankle yesterday, Belichick doesn't believe his top cornerback will be out very long. "He's close," said Belichick. "It wasn't like he was out there on crutches. He worked out before the game, and I'd say it was close. We didn't think he was quite ready, so day-to-day is probably a good way to put it." . . . Belichick confirmed that the door probably would be open for Larry Centers to return. Sidelined for several weeks by a knee injury, Centers received an injury settlement and was released Saturday. "Hopefully, he will be back," said Belichick . . . Belichick said right tackle Kenyatta Jones, who is on the physically-unable-to-perform list, would begin practicing tomorrow. The Patriots are thin at tackle after placing Adrian Klemm (ankle) on injured reserve Saturday . . . As of yesterday, it was unclear whether the league would look into the reported skirmish between Tim Bowens and Chris Akins following the game.

Take it away

The Patriots are tied for the league lead with 18 takeaways. Credit the defense watching "ball disruption" videos the night before games. "Pepper Johnson [inside linebackers coach] is in charge of ball disruption," Richard Seymour said. "It's fresh in our minds who we can get the ball out of, how the quarterback holds the ball when he's running trying to scramble around. So we're conscious of it. It's definitely a conscious effort to try to take the ball away." . . . Example of a little big play: Eugene Wilson bumping Ricky Williams out of bounds for a 1-yard loss in the third quarter. "Those are the kind of plays that can turn into 10 [yards] in a hurry," said Belichick, "you know, if you're a step or two late on that and Ricky gets turned upfield."

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