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Belichick: "We tried to win the game on that play"

Bill Belichick, as is his custom, made media members work hard to get a good nugget in his press conference after Sunday’s game and during Monday’s media session.

In his weekly radio appearance on WEEI, Belichick was a little more revealing.  He provided a window into the decision to go for it on fourth-and-two from New England’s 28-yard line late in the game when he mentioned another Patriots-Colts game that took play in Indianapolis.

“It came to, if we had made that play, we would have been able to run out all or most of the clock so we didn’t need very much, we felt good about the play,” Belichick said.  “We’ve been on the other side of that one, it’s basically where we were in the AFC Championship game.  We’ve done it both ways and we tried to win the game on that play and it didn’t work out.”

Belichick is referring to the classic AFC Championship game following the 2006 season.   In that game, the Patriots punted to the Colts with two minutes and 17 seconds left rather than go for a fourth and four from their own 46-yard line. 75 seconds later, Joseph Addai scored the game-winning touchdown.  Perhaps that experience influenced Belichick’s decision.

“It’s fourth and two, you make that play, then you can win the game.  As opposed to giving them the ball back with time and a timeout, and letting them control the game, so that’s what we elected to do,” Belichick said.

Belichick touched on a few other issues.

His lack of timeouts: “We were a lot more concerned with our execution and making sure we had things as right as we could have them at that time. . . . When you have a lead with two minutes to go, you’re not thinking about, let’s keep all of our timeouts.  That wasn’t a big priority.”

On possibly allowing the Colts to score to get the ball back: “I think you make them earn the winning touchdown. We were up there a few years ago and held them on the one-yard line at the end of the game.” 

On if he would have challenged the spot on Faulk’s catch: “Of course, you’d have nothing to lose at that point.”

What has been lost somewhat in Belichick’s decision is the execution of the entire Colts team throughout the fourth quarter.  They completed two 79-yard touchdown drives in less than four minutes combined.  Reggie Wayne made incredible catches all game long, including a fabulous game winner.

I wrote this elsewhere today, but the Patriots had a number of chances to essentially end the game.  The Colts made the plays to win.

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51 Responses to “Belichick: "We tried to win the game on that play"”
  1. CD_Ridge says: Nov 16, 2009 8:10 PM

    Not a Pats fan, but I like the call. I like the chances of the Pats offense getting 2 yards. If they would have gotten the first down, everyone would be praising BB for going for it. Hindsight and all that.

  2. Slow Joe says: Nov 16, 2009 8:12 PM

    I have no problem with Belichick’s decision. I thought it was ballsy, but also the correct call.
    Of course, he’s wearing three rings. If Raheem Morris made that same decision, the media down here would rake him over the coals.

  3. slipkid says: Nov 16, 2009 8:13 PM

    i would have punted the ball.

  4. johnk says: Nov 16, 2009 8:13 PM

    Some food for thought:
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/joe_posnanski/11/16/belichick/index.html
    http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/16/bill-belichick-is-great/

  5. ampats says: Nov 16, 2009 8:24 PM

    Great game, disappointing result. The Pats had several chances to put the game away.
    Congratulations to the Colts. We will see you again in January.

  6. Citizen Strange says: Nov 16, 2009 8:28 PM

    WORST CALL EVER – Going for it on fourth and two from your own 28 with 2:08 left and a six point lead and the Colts with one time out. – In all my years of football I have never seen that. I wouldn’t even do it if it was fourth and inches and try a QB sneak let alone fourth and two and passing it. So many things can go wrong with that.
    You kick the ball and make the Colts put together a perfect two minute drive with only one time out. First of all that takes the run away from them for the most part because they just can’t take a chance on it getting stuffed when Manning is a realistic distance from the end zone. From the 28 … 29 I guess… Manning can still wing it into the endzone on any of all four attempts even if a run is stuffed for no gain.
    Make the Colts put together a perfect drive with no penalties, no sacks, no middle of the field catches (or one at most) and take it at least 60 yards to the end zone…. Read More
    The only thing that I can even think of is playing the angle of if the Colts score more quickly from from the 29 than they would from 60 yards out or whatever the Patriots would get the ball back and only need a field goal but …. to me …. that is just insane.

  7. ParkerFly says: Nov 16, 2009 8:29 PM

    It’s only a stupid call if it doesn’t work. If it had worked, everyone would be singing his praises. Can’t win ’em all. Good move by Belichick.

  8. The Real Shuxion says: Nov 16, 2009 8:30 PM

    I am a huge pats fan and had major issues with the decision.
    Why call TO on first down (How do you not have the play ready?)
    Run on 3rd down and get closer to the first down marker and force the Colts to use the T/O.
    When they were lining up and I had the feeling that they were gonna run it I was praying for a lineman to move and force the punt.
    It was a freakin meltdown, They have to run the table if they want that other first round bye (And hope Cincy loses 2 and Pittsburgh/Denver loses 1)

  9. Greg B. says: Nov 16, 2009 8:32 PM

    I was surprised by the call when it happened, but I really cannot fault the Patriots for that. What I do fault them for is the way they dominated for the better part of 3 quarters and then went totally south at the end. Why were they in a 4th and 2 situation in the first place? They got conservative on offense near the end, gave far too many unproductive carries to Laurence “Dancing with the Stars” Maroney, and their defense looked gassed at the end. I don’t understand how they let themselves get in that position.

  10. DanielV says: Nov 16, 2009 8:33 PM

    One of the greatest sound bytes from a head coach came from Herm Edwards, “You play to win the game!” To me, it appeared the Patriots were playing not to lose the game. By punting the ball at that point, the message sent would have been, “We’re going to make you earn this victory.” By going for it on the fourth down the message sent was, “We can’t punt because you’ll march down the field and score, so hopefully we can convert so we don’t lose the game.”

  11. PFTiswhatitis says: Nov 16, 2009 8:44 PM

    Gee Gregg that Twitter link was really a gem.

  12. Paul_R. says: Nov 16, 2009 8:44 PM

    Citizen Strange says:
    “WORST CALL EVER”
    Hardly. The offense had been very successful all evening. I think they had a better than even chance to simply get 2 yards. It didn’t happen.
    Guess what? Seven more games for them in the regular season. I think they’ll get enough wins to take the AFC East and get into the playoffs. That’s when just one game will really mean something.

  13. LovinBlue says: Nov 16, 2009 8:46 PM

    It’s about time somebody recognized that the Colts did what was needed to win the game in the end. They looked like crap early on and even I lost faith, but the Pats didn’t put it away when they could have.

  14. bmacfarland says: Nov 16, 2009 8:49 PM

    Though the Colts did execute the fourth quarter, let’s not forget two huge plays the Colts didn’t execute on.
    One of those drives included got 36 easy yards one what every journalist/analyst called a questionable or dice pass interference call. That takes a 79 yard drive and makes it a 43 yard one…
    Peyton also threw an interception (really a pass to no one) in the fourth quarter.
    The defense gave also did give up 10 points in the quarter (not a good average in general).
    It helps to get big close calls (the spot of the 4th down play and the big pass interference) as well as making the plays.

  15. MgoBlue0712 says: Nov 16, 2009 8:49 PM

    Bill your call cost us a chance for a decent playoff seed……thanx 😦

  16. Patriot Fan says: Nov 16, 2009 9:13 PM

    Great call by the Pats. It’s an extra chance to win the game. If you punt, you have one chance-to stop them. If you go for it and get it you win. If you go for it and don’t get it you still have one chance by stopping them. Lots of talk for a basic idea really. It was the right choice…and, I personally think it WAS a first down. Even with the so called “juggle” which wasn’t much and certainly didn’t cause the loss of yardage needed to deny the first down mark.
    Good call by the Pats, love the aggressiveness….

  17. bmacfarland says: Nov 16, 2009 9:14 PM

    MgoBlue0712,
    I think a decent playoff seed is still quite alive. I don’t think the Bengals are going to be 14 and 2. Denver is sliding. PIT and SD are always tough, but I think if you prove you can dominate in Indy (as the Patriots did) the odds are decent that you can get the bye.

  18. frank booth says: Nov 16, 2009 9:40 PM

    Really a dumb move. The Pats have the 7th best Defense against the pass. Like most other teams, they convert less than 50% of the time on 3rd and 4th down.
    They were much better off punting and making Manning beat them. If they were in Colts territory, you might consider it aggressive, but in this case, it’s just plain stupid to risk giving the Colts the ball on the NE 28 yard line.
    Shows a lot of confidence in the defense as well.

  19. SFrancis1680 says: Nov 16, 2009 9:40 PM

    Not much confidence in his defense, with that call, Bellicheck will get the benifit of the doubt with that call, where just about every other coach would have been buried if they did the same thing

  20. ParkerFly says: Nov 16, 2009 9:45 PM

    MgoBlue0712 get real.

  21. frank booth says: Nov 16, 2009 9:48 PM

    bmacfarland,
    The Pats didn’t dominate Indy by any stretch. They gave up just over 400 yards and 35 points and lost the game to boot. If this is dominance, I’d hate to see an off day.

  22. NoKoolaidCowboy says: Nov 16, 2009 9:48 PM

    Belichick: “We tried to win the game on that play”
    Suuuuuuuuuuucker!

  23. Citizen Strange says: Nov 16, 2009 9:55 PM

    Try to imagine Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Chuck Noll, Tom Landry, Bill Walsh, etc., making the decision to go for it in that situation.
    One last time, Belichick’s coaching “genius” begins and ends with the deaf, dumb and blind luck of ACCIDENTALLY drafting Tom Brady in the sixth round.
    Without Brady, Belichick is a below average coach.

  24. frank booth says: Nov 16, 2009 10:19 PM

    Try to imagine Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Chuck Noll, Tom Landry, and Bill Walsh taking a crap and combining it.
    The result may not be a better coach, but it would have more character, personality, and class than Belichick.

  25. hayward giablommi says: Nov 16, 2009 10:28 PM

    Lookyhere, Citizen Strange making anti-Patriots comments on PFT.
    Way to break the mold and be unpredictable, CS.

  26. hayward giablommi says: Nov 16, 2009 10:32 PM

    “One last time, Belichick’s coaching “genius” begins and ends with the deaf, dumb and blind luck of ACCIDENTALLY drafting Tom Brady in the sixth round.”
    ^^^^^
    So 31 teams purposely passed on him then? Easily one of the STUPIDEST posts you’ve made here…quite an accomplishment given your lofty standards.
    “Without Brady, Belichick is a below average coach.”
    ^^^^^
    Yeah, awful. Remember that year when Tom Brady got knocked out in the first quarter of the season? Belichick really got exposed that year.

  27. bluestree says: Nov 16, 2009 10:33 PM

    Obviously, Belichick didn’t believe his defense could hold up. And it’s not really a BAD decision, percentage wise, but it’s unusual because if you miss, you have no cusion, no plan b, and now his defense is pissed, a lot of fans are pissed,and he’s created a big distraction. He lost more than the game, and that’s why most coaches would go the other way. It sort of reminds me of the Mike Holmgren “let them score” decision in Super Bowl XXXI. It may be a good strategy, but the price for being wrong is heavier than if you lose conventionally.

  28. Richm2256 says: Nov 16, 2009 10:42 PM

    “Without Brady, Belichick is a below average coach.”
    Right, and 11-5 with Casell last year was “below average”??? Get a clue, haters. You people want it both ways ….
    First you say Brady is a “system” quarterback who would suck without Belichick, and Belichick can put any QB in the “system” and win with him.
    Then you say that Bellichick sucks and is riding Brady’s coattails to the HOF.
    Pick a side, would you?

  29. ParkerFly says: Nov 16, 2009 10:57 PM

    “Without Brady, Belichick is a below average coach.”
    No kidding! Oh wait, he went 11-5 without him last year. Guess you’re wrong.

  30. Joe M says: Nov 16, 2009 11:21 PM

    It’s not without a more significant precedent. Pete Carroll did the same thing in that extraordinary 2006 BCS Championship game. The Trojans were 4th & 2 with about 2 min left around mid-field. He basically felt they had no answer for Vince Young whether they gave him the ball on the 20 or the 50 with enough time. (Say what you want about V Young as a Pro, that’s still the greatest individual Championship game performance, college or Pro .. 200 yds rushing & 270 passing).
    If Peyton had no timeouts, then you punt & make him go 70 yds because then odds tilt a little more in your favor. But 3 timeouts & 2 min to work, Peyton would most likely have accomplished same thing with that momentum.
    My question is Belichick doing this in a reg season game & dispiriting your defense hereafter. Save that unusual call for the playoffs, as Carroll did, altho it never worked for him either – the QB on the other side was just too good.
    -Joe M
    Waterford MI

  31. flatstanley says: Nov 17, 2009 12:03 AM

    Belicheat and his big ego lost that game.

  32. theillestnino says: Nov 17, 2009 12:33 AM

    how about this, those with three super bowl wins or more can question the call.

  33. seattle_slew says: Nov 17, 2009 1:05 AM

    One can’t doubt his confidence that is for sure. Personally I would have thrown to Welker though, he was open the flat.
    Go Pats !
    (Since my dogs the Seahawks are dying on the vine).

  34. clubfoot says: Nov 17, 2009 7:56 AM

    In the tweet, Joe Posnanski is setting up a straw man to knock over. His premise is that “A team” not the team. The chance for the Pats to make the first down is probably higher than the 60% to which he refers. However, the Colts only having a 53% of driving for a winning score is low. Set the straw man up and then knock him over. Belichick has zero post spygate superbowl wins. Does the label genius mean a coach that steals signals that looks smart or one that has the only team to go 18-1 and not win the superbow?

  35. John Cittebart says: Nov 17, 2009 8:01 AM

    My take is that Belichick did what he did to spite Kraft because Kraft slighted Bill in some way that we’ll never know.
    It was a matter of showing who’s really in charge of the team.

  36. Quagmire says: Nov 17, 2009 8:36 AM

    I hear some announcers talking about the Pat’s success making 4th down plays. But how many times have they even gone for it when needing 2 yds from inside their own 30….while up by 6 points.
    You need to think risk vs reward.
    No brainer, bad decision.

  37. thehoodedone says: Nov 17, 2009 9:45 AM

    For the life of me, I can’t figure out why every Pats post draws so many comments from non-pats fans. Maybe the Pats are America’s team now. Oh yeah, it was a first down. Ask yourself if that would have been called a first down at any other time in that game or any other game. Yes. Yes it would. You know it. You thought it was when you saw it. And you all have a closet obsession with the Pats.

  38. Citizen Strange says: Nov 17, 2009 10:23 AM

    I have never, never, ever said that Brady is a system quarterback. I think he is a Hall of Fame quality quarterback.
    Last year when the Patriots went 11-5 they played in one top three weakest divisions in the NFL (AFC East) and their rotation was with the AFC West.
    I could coach a team to wins against the Chiefs, Raiders and Bills … twice.
    Also in Belichick’s show of coaching genius without Brady the Pats didn’t make the playoffs.
    Belichick has NEVER made the playoffs without Tom Brady as his starting quarterback.

  39. Citizen Strange says: Nov 17, 2009 11:55 AM

    Sorry about that …
    Here is an even split.
    Belichick has been a head coach for 14 seasons not including 2009.
    For seven of those seasons Tom Brady has been his starting quarterback ….
    and in seven of those seasons he hasn’t.
    In the seven seasons Belichick has been a head coach and Tom Brady has not been his starting quarterback he has made it to the playoffs ONCE and is 1 – 1 in the playoffs. One win and one loss.
    With Tom Brady as his starting quarterback Belichick has made it to the playoffs in SIX OUT OF SEVEN SEASONS (and this year will probably make it seven out of eight) and is 14 – 3 in the post season 3 – 1 in the Super Bowl.
    So is Belichick really a genius head coach with a humongous personal football library and infallible personnel and game management decision making?
    Or did he get INCREDIBLY lucky by accidentally drafting one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL in the sixth round and is just along for the ride?
    Is Belichick really just Mangini but with one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL in his prime?
    Oh … and possibly the cheating thing too.

  40. hayward giablommi says: Nov 17, 2009 12:09 PM

    “Belichick has NEVER made the playoffs without Tom Brady as his starting quarterback.”
    ^^^^^
    Hello, was Tom Brady QB’ing the Cleveland Browns when they made their 1994 playoff run (which saw them knock off the Bill Parcells’ coached Patriots in the Wildcard game)?
    You clearly hate the Patriots, which is fine by me. However, your repeated attempts at diminishing and/or downplaying their accomplishments, and stating flat-out inaccuracies is just par for the course for the hater template that you repeatedly employ.
    I hate many teams throughout the league, but I can give those teams credit when they deserve it. You are unable to give any credit to the Patriots and take repeated potshots and state factual inaccuracies. Therefore, your credibility is nonexistant.

  41. hayward giablommi says: Nov 17, 2009 12:24 PM

    “Or did he get INCREDIBLY lucky by accidentally drafting one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL in the sixth round and is just along for the ride?”
    ^^^^^
    Pure idiocy.
    I guess he was just “INCREDIBLY lucky” also when Drew Bledsoe went down week 2 of 2001, and he brought in this Tom Brady guy noone had heard of, instead of Damon Huard, an established veteran backup.
    And his “luck” miraculously continued when Bledsoe was given a clean bill of health, but Brady remained the starter midway through the season- despite Bledsoe just having been given a huge contract by Kraft & Co. That’s some lucky streak he was having, huh?
    And how about this Matt Cassel, the guy who looked absolutely atrocious in the 2008 preseason, the guy everyone was saying they should just release before the regular season because he sucked so bad, god-forbid Brady ever went down, their season would immediately be finished? I guess that was just incredibly luck too.
    Just a friendly suggestion: you might want to just stop posting on Patriots stories. The transparency of your anti-Patriots agenda pretty much nullifies anything you state here.

  42. harkin says: Nov 17, 2009 1:36 PM

    Disclaimer: Pre-Super Bowls Pats fan.
    Given that Peyton Manning is an exceptional QB and the Colts have had some good teams. Ever since the 20-3 spanking of the Colts in the playoffs by the Pats (Manning’s TD record year), has anyone but me noticed how often Manning just throws it up there and gets an interference call? It happened again on Sunday night for 35+ yards in a key drive. Its seems to happen alot to the Pats and I sense, although not witnessing, the Colts get a lot of calls in other games.
    Its cheap and milking the rules, worse than the Brady-rule. Notice how Moss caught a pass with the defender’s arm BETWEEN HIS. Then the Colts get new life from a questionable INT call. Maybe the league should consider reviewing some of these calls next year. There is too much free yardage on these INT calls.
    Lost in the discussion was the Pats domination of the Colts. Save for a fumble and an endzone INT (granted, a 40 yard pass), the Pats could have been up 20 points at the end of the game. So much for the super-D Colts. Dwight who? Dominated AGAIN by a Pats O-line rookie (recall 2 years ago). Speaking of drafts and trades – looks so far like Vollmer is another diamond in the rough, along with Edelman. Don’t forget Mayo. Luck, my a$$.
    The Colts days are numbered.

  43. frank booth says: Nov 17, 2009 1:57 PM

    harkin-
    I don’t think Manning benefits from calls anymore than Brady does. They are both NFL sweethearts.

  44. stanjam says: Nov 17, 2009 2:25 PM

    Frank. I agree, somewhat. Brady will always get the questionable roughing calls, especially since he was injured. Manning gets the PI calls. Every time the Pats have had to face the Colts since the rule “emphasis,” Manning gets 1-2 of these per game. That last one was simply stupid, but no one talks about it. The defender was clearly turned around and going for the ball. He couldn’t even SEE the receiver.
    I have seen too many games (not talking Pats games) where bad ref calls have cost a team the game. I used to think it was just bad refs, but I think now it is an act. There is simply no way the league has that many bad refs. That and the bad calls always seem to favor one team over the other. It usually involves a player or team that generates revenue for the NFL. Go figure.

  45. pubobby2004 says: Nov 17, 2009 3:35 PM

    SCOREBOARD 35-34
    (PS – how did the celtics do on saturday night?)
    have a great day chowds

  46. pubobby2004 says: Nov 17, 2009 3:37 PM

    ampats says: November 16, 2009 8:24 PM
    Great game, disappointing result. The Pats had several chances to put the game away.
    Congratulations to the Colts. We will see you again in January.
    ———————
    thanks, its nice to see at least one classy fan in beantown not reaching for excuses. see you again in the playoffs.
    good luck

  47. pubobby2004 says: Nov 17, 2009 4:09 PM

    keep it up with all the “if’s”. IF they reviewed the spot, IF we didn’t get the interference call, IF maroney didn’t fumble… blah blah blah.
    how about these “IF’s”: IF Freeney weren’t held the whole game, IF Brady’s INTs were pick 6’s, IF Moss were still in oakland, IF the tuck rule didn’t exist, IF Bob sanders played, IF Anthony Gonzalez played, IF Marlin Jackson played, IF Tyjuan Hagler played, IF Kelvin Hayden played, IF Adam Vinateiri played, IF Bernard Pollard hit Brady just a little harder, …good game, good win. SCOREBOARD

  48. Texas Boy says: Nov 17, 2009 4:22 PM

    The genius is beginning to fade…Yeah he has some good players but, Filmgate is starting to catch up to him! He kept ordering tapes done on other teams for about 4 years!! Why else would he keep risking his actions unless he felt it was putting him at advantage. A SNAKE is a better title!

  49. PeteG says: Nov 17, 2009 6:02 PM

    Bill Belichick is a Hall of Fame coach because of his players. Just like Bill Walsh is because he had Joe Montana. Would Walsh be remembered as genius with out montana? Would Vince Lombardi be remembered with out all his great players?- nope The coach helps them just as they help him.
    We can debate whether the call to go for it on 4th down was right, but you can’t deby the call to cajones to make. He was willing to take the heat for it not working. Something to be said for that. I hate the Colts but I have to hand it to them they executed when they needed it – it was a great game. Just an awful result for us Pats fans

  50. pubobby2004 says: Nov 18, 2009 8:05 AM

    thank you for your honesty PeteG. see you in the playoffs. I’m sure you’ll still wrap up your division easily and it will make for a great AFC championship game.

  51. pubobby2004 says: Nov 18, 2009 8:19 AM

    how furious must Melvin Bullitt be? not a single mention of him making that tackle to save the game. Faulk this, Brady that, BB whatever… the play of the game was Mel B dislodging that ball and driving Faulk back BEHIND the 30. – – – – (pats fans, be glad Bob Sanders was out or that would have been an incompletion with a side of body bag for your boy faulk)

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