Belichick did have his reasons
This is not a defense of what Bill Belichick did. Clearly, most coaches--virtually all coaches--would have opted to punt the ball on fourth and two with about two minutes to play, protecting a 34-28 lead.
The bottom-line analysis here is that Belichick probably was wrong. He probably made a desperation coaching move in a circumstance that didn't call for it. He probably should have given his Patriots defense a chance to stop Peyton Manning and the Colts. The New England defense had managed to do that a few times during the game, after all. It even did it once in the fourth quarter when Manning threw his second interception of the night.
But the other point here is that it's not quite as clear-cut as some are making it out to be that Belichick was wrong.
There are reasons for what he did.
First of all, Belichick coaches that way. He takes chances. He leaves his offense on the field for fourth-down gambles. He trusts Tom Brady implicitly.
Whatever you think of Belichick and his methods, the guy has won three Super Bowls with the Patriots. He has some idea what he's doing.
Clearly, in this circumstance, Belichick thought his defense was done and had no chance of stopping Manning whether the Colts got the ball at the 28-yard line, midfield, their own 2-yard line or out in the parking lot. The Colts already had crafted a pair of 79-yard touchdown drives in the fourth quarter. One lasted 2 minutes 4 seconds. The other lasted 1 minute 49 seconds.
In fact, here's where Belichick was inconsistent: If he really thought his defense couldn't win the game for him, if he really thought his only chance was with Brady and his offense, shouldn't the Patriots have followed the failed fourth-down gamble by allowing the Colts to score a touchdown immediately? That way, the Patriots would have faced a 35-34 deficit but they would have had nearly two minutes to try to drive to a game-winning field goal of their own. As it was, the Colts scored the winning points with 13 seconds left and Brady had no time for a reply.
One thing that Belichick did accomplish was putting the postgame focus entirely on himself. No one is talking about the Patriots' defensive struggles in the fourth quarter. If the Patriots have to go to Indianapolis again during the postseason, all of the talk during the buildup to that game will be about Belichick's fourth-down gamble that failed.
He has, in a strange way, taken the pressure off his players, who undoubtedly believe very strongly that they could beat the Colts in a possible rematch no matter where it would be played.
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