Six years ago, on a Monday night in October, the Colts trailed the Bucs in Tampa by 21 points with four minutes to play.
But Colts coach Tony Dungy didn’t throw in the towel. And he was rewarded for showing faith in his team by a comeback for the ages. Led by Peyton Manning, Indy scored three touchdowns to force overtime — and then won the thing in the extra session.
On Monday night in New Orleans, the Patriots regained possession of the ball with 5:22 to play after a missed field goal, trailing the Saints by 21 points, 38-17.
So the stage was set for another stunning outcome, right?
Pats coach Bill Belichick threw in the towel, pulling quarterback Tom Brady and many other starters and conceding the win to Sean Payton, Gregg Williams, and the rest of the Saints.
For a head coach known to take plenty risks, why not take a chance on a miracle?
It’s almost as if he didn’t want to give the Saints the satisfaction of squashing an attempt to score one touchdown, much less three of them. And so Belichick opted not to even try to pull off a similar kind of magic that Brady and company worked on Monday night in Week One, against the Bills.
Though the Patriots likely will fend off a substandard trio of AFC East rivals to secure a spot in the playoffs, this night to forget will be fresh in their memories when the postseason begins.
The only possible consolation for the Pats? If they somehow get hot and find a way to get past teams like the Chargers, Colts, Steelers, and Bengals, a rematch with the Saints would occur in a place other than the Superdome.
Maybe when they’re losing by 21 points with 5:22 to play then, Belichick will at least try to pull out the unlikely win.