As this is a football blog Past Interference was probably remiss in not throwing in its two cents in the matter of the most controversial play call of the year. So here’s PI’s belated take. Man, you would have thought Bill Belichick ran over somebody’s grandmother the way he got slammed for going for it on fourth-and-two from his own 30. Trent Dilfer, Rodney Harrison, and Tedy Bruschi angrily ripped him. Tony Dungy quietly ripped him. And the avalanche of rippery that followed the next morning was divided between those who attributed the gamble to a Belichick brain cramp and those who chalked it up to pure Belichickean arrogance. PI buys neither idiotic “explanation”. Analogize it to a baseball manager who walks a hitter who’s in the zone even if it “the book” says the hitter should be pitched to in that situation. Belichick simply decided his best chance to win was to convert then and there rather than turn it over to Peyton Manning. Even if the Pats don’t convert Belichick probably figured the Colts would score a TD regardless of field position so giving them a shorter field would at least give the Pats some time to come back.
So it was the right call? Obviously no. It didn’t work. Duh. But was it a defensible call? Well in the wake of the post-game vitriol tossed Belichick’s way, up popped a few people a lot smarter than me who coldly analyzed Belichick’s options instead of talking out of their ass and (surprise!) concluded Belichick wasn’t gambling at all. His decision made all the sense in the world. The percentages actually supported it or at least showed Belichick’s decision was a close call.
When New England’s offense came out for the fourth-and-two play I assumed they were going to try and draw the Colts offsides (a stupid assumption as NE had just burned their last time out and couldn’t afford a delay of game penalty). I just couldn’t believe they would actually go for it. You can’t ever truly know the percentages on any given play but at that time the chances of converting had to be less than what the percentages say. Yeah, the Pats have far better personnel than your average team but the Colts knew NE was going to throw. Especially once they lined up in the shotgun. Plus I don’t think the Colts chances of successfully executing a long TD drive if NE had punted were anything close to a sure thing. Manning might be having his best year ever but he was not at his best that night. He mixed in some horrible throws in with his great ones. But while I thought Belichick screwed up I was glad to see a coach rolling the dice like that.
The biggest post-game head-scratcher was Brushci saying his old coach disrespected his defense by going for it. Huh? What if the Pats got the first down? Wouldn’t the defense have appreciated getting to watch the final moments of a win from the comfort of the sideline? If that dissed D hadn’t allowed the Colts to get back in the seemingly over ballgame in the first place Bill B wouldn’t have to make the controversial move. And by letting the Colts easily move the 30-yards needed for the TD didn’t the defense provide ammunition for any belief by their coach that they couldn’t stop Manning? When a coach has to make a key decision with the game on the line must he also now consider the feelings of a key unit of his team in addition to trying to win the game? I’m just trying to imagine this alternate scenario where the Pats convert, win the game, and the defense can take no solace in the huge win over their arch-rival because their feelings are hurt.
Unfortunately for our society it’s now considered normal to turn over valuable television time to people who lack expertise on virtually any subject of importance (i.e. economics, foreign affairs, military matters, social sciences, environmental sciences, technology, psychology, etc.) and allow them to spout their ignorance on everything under the sun and misinform us all. I’d hate to see sports coverage, an easy enough area to develop some expertise in, following the same pathetic path.