Bill Belichick is usually one of the NFL’s more aggressive coaches when it comes to going for it on fourth down. But not today in the AFC Championship Game.
Belichick has already punted three times while in Ravens territory, and the last of those punts came with the Patriots facing fourth-and-8 from the 34-yard line. Belichick apparently thought the windy conditions in New England made it unlikely that Stephen Gostkowski would make a 52-yard field goal, but it’s surprising that he didn’t just go for it instead of punting the ball back to the Ravens.
And punting the ball back to the Ravens turned out to be a mistake: The Ravens marched down the field on a 10-play, 87-yard drive and scored a touchdown on a five-yard pass from Joe Flacco to Dennis Pitta to take a 14-13 lead.
It’s been a hard-hitting, back-and-forth battle in New England. With the Super Bowl on the line, Belichick may want to take a few more chances with Tom Brady’s arm, and not put so much on Zoltan Mesko’s foot.