The League

Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

Belichick got clocked

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Bill Belichick's strange decision to go for it with 2:08 left in the game on his own 28 was compounded by two factors. First, the fact that the coach had burned all his timeouts before the play, allowing him no chance to either review a play before the two-minute mark or stop the Colts' no-huddle offense. I actually question the clock management more than I question the play call. Second, Peyton Manning had already driven his Colts for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, both on 79-yard drives that each took about two minutes off the clock. Belichick must have felt that even if he decided to punt from the 28 and put Manning in a 70-yard hole, Manning could make him pay with ease.

After watching the highlights again this morning, I'm thinking the Pats missed a freeze-dried opportunity to take the game back AFTER Belichick's fourth-down call. If New England's secondary goes with the "let them score" strategy (which came up a lot yesterday) on Joseph Addai's 13-yard run down to the New England 1, and Addai doesn't take a dive like Maurice Jones-Drew did against the Jets, the Pats would have the ball back, barring a successful onside kick, with a minute or more left. All they need to do then is get in field goal range, indoors, with a pretty decent kicker in Stephen Gostkowski on their sideline. I would have liked their chances in that situation.

Once the Pats were given the call that Kevin Faulk didn't have forward progress on the one-yard catch because he was bobbling the ball when he was past the first-down marker -- a call I agree with -- the Colts had two ways to go. They could score quickly and give the ball back to New England, or they could smartly work the clock down to nothing. With two Joseph Addai runs and two passes to Reggie Wayne (including the game-winning touchdown with 16 seconds left), Manning proved that it was he, and not Belichick, who controlled the clock and the final outcome.

As bad as Belichick's decision-making was, I think there's too much talk about a few strange decisions in his part and not enough credit given to Manning's ability to manipulate one of the NFL's better teams as he did. To me, the real story here is that Manning is playing his position as well as it can be played, and that's why this game went the way it did.

By Doug Farrar  |  November 16, 2009; 9:13 AM ET  | Category:  Indianapolis Colts , New England Patriots Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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"let them score" strategy:

That's exactly what I was expecting Coach Belichick to call (I thought of Mike Holmgren immediately after the 4th and 2 went bad). Addai seemed to be in no mood to dive, he was going for the endzone. Once he was brought down, Peyton Manning very alertly took time off the clock.

I blame this on bad clock management - Belichick never had the time to consider options, being out of timeouts..

I think Peyton beat Belichick in this game.

Posted by: kdeshpande | November 20, 2009 1:58 PM

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