Late in the third quarter of the AFC Championship Game, with the Patriots facing fourth-and-3 at the 29-yard line, Bill Belichick decided to go for it. Tom Brady was sacked on the play, and Belichick has been kicking himself for it since.
Belichick said on WEEI that in hindsight, he thinks a 47-yard field goal to cut the deficit from 20-3 to 20-6 would have been the better call.
“Those three points would have been good to have at the end of the game if we would have made the kick, which we would have had a good chance to,” Belichick said, via Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com. “I felt like, at the time, we were down by 17 points, only had three points, and hadn’t got down there very much. I don’t think you’re going to beat Denver kicking field goals, but . . . if we would have had a field goal and then the two touchdowns we ended up getting later on, those would have been important points for us. I don’t know that was the right decision. It wasn’t, obviously, when we lost yardage on fourth down and gave the ball back without any points.”
Obviously, it didn’t work, so Belichick wishes the Patriots had called a different play on that fourth down. But I’m not so sure that going for it was the wrong call: As Belichick said, you’re not going to beat Denver kicking field goals. By that point in the game the Patriots were way behind and probably weren’t going to win either way, but that fourth-and-3 was not a bad call. Just a call that didn’t work.