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The Belichick Gamble

November 16, 2009 - Al Stephenson
The Sunday night NFL game was an exciting one. The Colts 35-34 win was gift wrapped by Patriots coach Bill Belichick who made an incredible gamble with a little over two minutes left in the game.

With the Pats holding a 6 point lead, they faced a fourth down and two to go at their own 28 yard line. The Colts had one time out left and a punt would have forced them to go some 70 yards in less than two minutes for the game winning TD. On the other hand going for the first down and getting it would have clinched the game for the Patriots.

Belichick has always been a gambling man, but conventional wisdom suggested a punt in this circumstance. He went against that wisdom and a Tom Brady pass to Kevin Faulk was juggled before being caught and ultimately placed short of the first down marker. Peyton Manning then led the Colts to the game winning TD.

So was the decision to go for the first down a bad decision? Most people outside of Indy and Foxboro probably found the decision amusing. Most Pat fans thought it stupid. Most Colt fans thought it was wonderful. Let's look at the situation a little closer.

If the Patriots get the first down, the game is over and they win. If they punt the ball their chances of winning are still pretty good. If they don't make it they are likely to lose. So do you play to win or do you play not to lose?

The view from my seat (amused like most fans) would suggest that if you believe it was a bad decision then you should feel like it was a bad one even if they get the first down. That would be a fair assessment.

I think it was a gutsy decision. Would I have made the same decision? NO WAY.


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