Where Is the Media Outcry Over Bill Belichick’s Repeated 4th Down Call?
The media has proven itself to be exactly what we thought they were: results-oriented rather than process-oriented, not unlike the way most people are in life. While the top story of the week from the NFL weekend (aside from Tony Romo’s injury) has been the brutal call for the Steelers against the Dolphins, there’s hardly been a mention of Bill Belichick’s decision to go for another 4th down conversion late in a close game. Why is that? Because the Patriots won the game. Had they lost, this would be all the talk. Let’s recap the choice.
With just under two minutes, the Pats were up three on the Chargers. New England had a 4th and 1 at their 49. If they convert, the game is over. If they get stopped, the Chargers are 15-20 yards away from a reasonable distance field goal to tie the game. The Pats handed the ball off to BenJarvus Green-Ellis who was stuffed running left. San Diego got the ball, completed two passes to Antonio Gates for 20 yards to set up a 4th down field goal from 45 yards out. A false start penalty backed them up five yards and kicker Kris Brown sailed it wide right, giving New England a win. Had Brown made the field goal, they would have gone to overtime. Had they lost, people would be all over Bill like last year.
Because we DH the guy who went 0-for-4 with four line drives over the guy who went 2-for-4 with an infield single and a bloop job, we will review Belichick’s controversial decision to see if the process was right.
The Chargers had two touchdowns and a field goal on its previous three drives and was moving against New England’s defense. A good punt puts San Diego at the 10 which means they would have to go around 60 yards in less than two minutes to set up a field goal. The chances of that were pretty good, and San Diego would still have to make the kick using a backup kicker. The chances of New England converting a 4th and one were very good, and had they converted the game would have been over. Plus, if they didn’t get it, the Chargers still had to set up for the field goal, and that would only tie the game, not end it.
Against Indy, the Pats were at their own 29 with a 4th and 2, not a 4th and 1. Not only is a 4th and 2 more difficult to convert, but the field position difference was huge — midfield vs. well in your own territory. Last year’s decision was awful by Belichick, this year’s was a good one, but not because it worked out. I’m just wondering where all of last year’s critics are this week.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi