Monday Morning Coach: Belichick on Fourth Down

 Posted by on 16 November 2009 at 5:00 pm  Football
Nov 162009

As anyone who was watching knows, last night’s Colts versus Patriots game was simply phenomenal. After Manning’s last interception, I stopped paying much attention. I was just certain that my beloved Colts would lose, and I just couldn’t stand to watch. I was amazed — and delighted — to be proven so wrong.

After the game, Paul and I watched the commentary, mostly focused on Bill Belichick’s controversial call to go for it rather than punt on fourth down. Despite the heavy criticism of him, I came to the conclusion that the decision was risky, but not necessarily wrong given the context.

Today, Paul sent me this analysis of the decision by NY Times writer Judy Battista. It’s excellent, I think. Here are the first few paragraphs:

Forget the Barry Switzer references. Yes, Bozo the Coach, which is what The New York Post called Switzer in a headline in 1995 when his Cowboys failed to convert a fourth-down attempt at their 29-yard-line against the Eagles — made the same decision that Bill Belichick did Sunday night in the Patriots’ 35-34 loss to the Colts.

But as second-guessing continues to rage about Belichick’s stunning decision to try to convert on fourth-and-2 at his own 28 while leading, 34-28, with quarterback Peyton Manning waiting on the opposite sideline, the best point of comparison may be Belichick himself earlier this season.

Against Atlanta on Sept. 27, Belichick went for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 24-yard line. The Patriots converted. Belichick was hailed for his you-play-to-win-the-game moxie. And in his postgame comments, he sounded strikingly the way he did Sunday night, if a lot more jovial.

If you’re a fan of the game, go read the whole thing.

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