Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Selective Perception

Among all of the "expert" opinions condemning Bill Belichick's decision to go for it on 4th on 2 from his own 28 the other night, I am astounded at how partial and selective professional sports analysts are allowed to be with the facts. I think you can make a case that he should have elected to punt but, if you made that case based on a selectively supportive subset of the facts, then I would probably feel the need to blog about you too.

Here's an obvious reality that must be considered (unless you are trying to garner ratings with your besmirching authoritative expertise). I am sure Belichick took into account that an average punt with an average return would have left the Colts somewhere near mid-field. The Patriots would certainly have resumed their deep safety coverage giving the Colts as many 10-15 yard underneath throws as they cared to take. This means that the Colts would have had to use two or three plays and maybe a half a minute off the clock to get to the Patriots 28 anyway. In that regard, the decision was between "getting a first down and winning" or "missing the first down and allowing the Colts to arrive at the 28 with a needless, extra half-minute on the clock". Going for it was a defensible option.

I am especially struck by the commentary of Teddy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison, former Patriot defensive players who respect Belichick but hated this call because, as they said, "it sends a signal to the defense that he has no confidence in them". What? He had so much confidence in the defense that he wasn't worried about giving the Colts the ball with 28 yards to go. I think his decision sent the opposite message. He believed they could either get the 1st down and ice the game or else the defense could keep the Colts out of the end zone.

Either way, it's a good week for the Belichick haters. However, I think that they out-played the undefeated Colts in Indianapolis and then faced national mockery in the aftermath. This looks like it might be one of those "good losses" that always helps the Patriots burn their way through the play-offs.


  1. Jeff Ryer11/17/2009

    Although I am a fan of taking risks, I think he should of punted. Why - just look at the play calls on the 3rd and 4th down. If you are going to take a risk, then by golly take a good risk. I can't recall one good screen pass in the game. The week prior, they were screen machine. Instead they throw to Faulk (always a good call) across the middle only three yards out. That was just dumb!!

  2. As a fan, that was a crushing defeat, but I have no problem with the call. I am fairly certain the Colts would have score just as easily after a punt. As you noted, the defense would have given up the underneath stuff anyway. Throw in the fact that it was "4-down" time of the game for the Colts and the task would have been even more difficult. The decision was basically weighing the odds of getting 2 yds (with a Hall of Fame QB) vs. stopping the Colts. I think it was the right call - the odds were far greater for getting the 2 yards. So the real problem is that they couldn't get a first down!! to seal the game - same exact scenario as the 06/07 AFC championship game.

  3. the pats went for it and lost. Why is this the topic of conversation? What the REAL oncversation should be is Indy escaped with a narrow victory, and see relatively clear waters ahead. MAYBE the Broncos can topple them, but most likely, the Colts are looking good for the goose-egg in the right hand column with no big challengers ahead.

    How come the Colts constantly fly under the radar like this? The Pats were barely 7-0 when this talk began in 07, yet, the Colts have been 10-0 once before with no such fuss, and i see no fuss this time around

    i love the pats, but i respect the colts and gotta say they are severely under-rated right now: exactly where they want to be