What was Bill Belichick thinking?
With the New England Patriots leading the surging Indianapolis Colts 34-28 with just over two minutes to play and staring at a fourth and two gamble on their own 28 yard line, was Bill Belichick’s decision to go for the first down rather than punt the ball away the right one?
Right or wrong, “The Call” sparked a debate more heated than healthcare reform across the United States on Monday and threatens to rage on for weeks to come as fans and commentators try to get inside one of the NFL’s greatest minds and get the answer to one question; “What was he thinking?”
Headlines Monday morning indicated many already had their answer.
“Beli-flop”screamed the headline in the New York Daily News while internet chat rooms were buzzing hailing Belichick “Bozo the Coach”.
With Colts quarterback Peyton Manning on fire and the Patriots defence out of gas and ideas, Belichick put the game in the hands of his most trusted player quarterback Tom Brady.
But Brady could not convert the fourth down gamble and Manning made Belichick pay for his miscalculation, hitting Reggie Wayne with a one-yard touchdown pass to clinch an improbable win.
The Coaching for Dummies handbook says in such situations you punt the ball away and force Manning to march the length of the field to earn the victory.
Despite some witty headlines, Belichick has largely received a free pass on his call because of a resume that includes a long list of Super Bowl wins and his reputation as a coaching genius.
But most Monday morning quarterbacks said Belichick had a brain cramp.
Do you agree?
PHOTO 1: Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne (R) celebrates along with his team mate Dallas Clark (L) after making the crucial touchdown catch. REUTERS/Brent Smith
PHOTO 2: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick walks the sideline against the Indianapolis Colts during the fourth quarter. REUTERS/Brent Smith