Bill Belichick Gets Cute And Loses

Steve O Speak

Last night with the Patriots vs. Colts Sunday Night Football matchup, we expected a battle between two powerhouses, and we weren’t disappointed. But for 56 minutes of this game the Patriots and Bill Belichick were in complete control with a 34-21 lead. Then Peyton Manning, showed that he is Peyton Manning. He drove the Colts 79 yards in 6 plays in just a 1:49, to cut the score to 34-28. The Colts defense came up with a big stop, leaving the Patriots 4th and 2 on their own 28 with 2:08 remaining on the clock.

Belichick elected to punt the ball to give as much distance between the endzone and future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning to go for it to run out the clock. Now, I like aggressive and bold play calling more than most people, but that is something you do playing Madden NFL 10, not on the road playing a game that will have playoff seeding implications. What was Belichick thinking? The first rule of football coaching is “You do not give Peyton Manning the ball on your own 29-yard line”, the second rule of football coaching is “You do not give Peyton Manning the ball on your own 29-yard line”.

Yeah I get it, Belichick supporters will point out that Manning drove 79 yards in a 1:49 seconds earlier, and the Colts still had one timeout remaining. And those people are right–2 minutes with one timeout is an eternity for Manning (that’s like 8 minutes with 3 timeouts for the Washington Redskins). But you have to have some faith in your defense to stop Peyton Manning with the game on the line. I mean its not as though this was the Browns or Lions defense. New England has a top 10 defense, overall and against the pass. They shut down Manning and co. for a good part of the game, forcing the Colts to punt 6 times in the first half (I think months have come and gone without the Colts punting 6 times). Maybe they wouldn’t have been able to shut down Manning, but at least you would have given them a fighting chance. The field was so short that the Colts were literally wasting time between plays, to make sure they didn’t score too quickly.

In the end, Belichick should have danced with the girl that brought him, his defense. Now I know everyone loves Tom Brady and the Patriots offense, and thinks they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. But they aren’t the reason the Patriots have three super bowl trophies. Don’t get me wrong the Patriots offense has been good during their Super Bowl runs, and in 2007 it was downright exceptional, but their defense has been the key to their success. Without their dominating defense they would have never been in a position to go to four Super Bowls (many times going through the Colts on their way).

Belichick needed to put the game in their hands and let the chips fall where they may. If they hold them, then you are a genius and the Patriots could be looking at home-field advantage in the playoffs. If the defense faltered, then it was a tough loss on the road against a great quarterback, and you wouldn’t be questioned about it ever again. Now Belichick will be second guessed for the rest of the season (and rightly so), home-field advantage in the playoffs is pipe dream right now, and there is a real possibility that New England will miss out on a bye. Last night’s decision was a major mistake, one that he will regret for the rest of the season. But that’s my opinion…what do you think and why?

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