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Belichick: Idea for alignment came from watching another NFL team

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick offered no response when asked Monday about Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh's objection to New England's use of an odd alignment on several plays in Saturday's divisional playoff game.

Harbaugh argued that the strategy did not give him enough time to make adjustments once the identity of the ineligible receiver was known in the Patriots' four-offensive-lineman set. He added he had never seen it before.

Belichick said it was not out of the ordinary, citing special teams examples, and added inspiration for the strategy came from watching another NFL team.

"The origin of that play was from the NFL," Belichick said Monday during a conference call with reporters. "What they did it sparked some ideas. We did what we did.

"It's a play that it's a situation that I saw another team use, kind of, and then we talked about it and thought about ways to maybe put some pressure on the defense with that concept of having more receivers on the field than were eligible.

"[Traditionally teams] make them ineligible instead of making ineligible guys eligible. We'd go the other way around. So we came up with a few ideas."

Belichick also cited examples from special teams when asked where he's seen the strategy used previously.

"It happens all the time," Belichick said. "You come in on the punt team, ineligible guys report as eligible. They line up as guards and tackles on the punt team. The center [on the punt team] are eligible players that report ineligible and they cover punts.

"We've seen it on offense, particularly we see it a lot on special teams with the punt team, not so much on field goals because you have your linemen protecting in there.

"I'd say it happens in every game on the punt team, so you're allowed to do that. We did it."

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said he has seen it used as well.

"I've seen it a few different places, where people try to do it differently," McDaniels said. "The situation it comes up in may be different, but you've seen linemen lined up different places, you've seen the center saddled by the two guards and the tackles are removed way outside the numbers at times. There are a lot of different formations that teams have tried or people have used to try to get a play here or there out of those types of things. Everything is part of the rules, and if there is a way to maybe give yourself an opportunity to get a positive play in a different situation, it's worth doing it. But I've definitely seen it before and I'm sure it won't be the last time."