Bill Belichick understands the criticism of leaving star tight end Rob Gronkowski on the extra point unit with a big lead late, given the broken arm Gronkowski suffered which could keep him out a month or more.
But Belichick said during a radio interview with WEEI he’s always thinking about how quickly a team can score on him, but also has to manage the feelings of 53 players when making such decisions.
“We’ve seen those games in the NFL every year, teams that have a lead — you can go back to the Indianapolis-Tampa game when they scored like 24 points in four minutes,” he said, via Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com. “The Buffalo-Houston playoff game where it’s 35-0 at halftime and you lose 38-35, whatever it was. It doesn’t take much in this league. Teams can score quickly. Turnovers. I think you just keep playing. At some point, there is a point [but] then you only have so many players, so somebody has to play.
“I think you have to be careful when you are trying to run a team to go up to one guy and say, ‘Michael, we’re going to leave you in the game because we don’t really care about you, but Glenn, we’re going to take you out because you’re really important.’ I don’t think that’s really a good way to approach a team. I’ve never done that. I don’t think that would be a very successful approach to it.”
At some point, it becomes an issue of plain, dumb, bad luck, which Belichick acknowledged saying: “Football players play football. You tell me which guys are going to get hurt and I’ll get them out of there.”
The Patriots will obviously miss Gronkowski, but they’re also well-stocked in receiving targets it shouldn’t kill them.
Short of quarterback Tom Brady, no one single injury should.