Belichick's REAL stupid decision on Sunday Night Football

I know that there’s been much debate about Belichick’s decision to “go for it” on 4th down from the Patsies’ own 30, with 2 minutes left. I think that one could easily argue for the conventional decision (punt the ball) or the unconventional decision with the better probability of winning (to go for it).

Belichick went with the latter and I don’t have any problem with it. I’m glad they lost, but that’s irrelevant here. To me, the truly idiotic decision was to try and stop the Colts once the 4th down failed. This clearly shows that Belichick’s arrogance hurt his team. He simply assumed that his team would convert the 4th down and the game would end. He was completely unprepared to deal with the small probability that his team wouldn’t convert, which ended up happening.

Here’s why he f-ed up: When deciding to go for it, there were 2 important factors: 1) The Patsies’s probability to convert the 4th down: let’s just say that this is 90%
2) The Colts’ prob of marching 70-80 yards downfield for touchdown: let’s say this is 60%.

I have no idea what the real probs are, but you can come up with your own and the answer is still obvious.

Per my numbers, once the unlikely event of failed conversion happened, the chance of the Colts scoring a touchdown was even higher - with the much shorter field.

So why in hell did Belichick play any defense? He should have allowed the Colts to score a touchdown immediately. Then his boy Brady would have had plenty of time to come back with a game-winning field goal. Not a touchdown, mind you, but just a field goal! With a damn good kicker in an indoor stadium on carpet to boot! (no pun intended)

People may think that the Colts would have tried to run out the clock a la Maurice Jones-Drew against the Jets. Nope. They would not have risked not scoring the touchdown. In Jones-Drew’s case, they were in position for an almost-guaranteed field goal. The Colts did not have this option.

I thought of this immediately after the 4th down failure. But that “genius” Belichick missed it.

I listen to and watch all kinds of sports analysis talk shows. Everyone’s fixated on the 4th down call when they should be grilling Belichick about what happened afterwards.

There’s only one problem, and it was brought up and discussed in the previous thread.

You’re wrong. The probabilities and numbers dictate that it was the right call.

But I think the OP’s saying fine, whatever, but after blowing the 4th down, Belichick should have had a plan B, and he’s detailing what he believes to be a perfectly viable plan B: let the Colts score as quickly as possible and then march back upfield for a field goal.

Anyway, I think that’s the gist of the OP, and I think he’s playing devil’s advocate, but if I misunderstood, well, sorry.


The funny thing is, during the Jaguars-Jets game earlier in the day, the Jets tried to let Maurice Jones-Drew score a touchdown in a very similar situation. Jones-Drew–in honestly one of the most heads-up plays of the year–wasn’t about to let them get the ball back with time on the clock, and downed the ball at the 1. The Jags were able to run the clock down and kick the game-winning field goal with no time on the clock.

Joseph Addai wasn’t thinking as clearly as Jones-Drew, and tried to score with some time left. The embarrassing thing for the Pats was, instead of letting him score so they could get the ball back, they tackled him at the 1!

Edit: simul-post!

You either didn’t read my OP, or I can’t find the “previous thread” to which you refer.

As I mentioned in the OP, Addai didn’t have the same option as Jones-Drew. There’s never a guarantee that the team will score a touchdown. Addai had no choice but to try to score the TD when the opportunity presented itself.

…all of which is in the OP.

It’s debatable. At Advanced NFL Stats, he analyzes the situation after the Colts reached the 14. Using the generic league-wide stats, teams score a TD from that situation 62% of the time (so they’re stopped 38%). Teams receiving a kickoff in the situation after allowing the Colts to score are able to get a FG or TD 36% of the time. At that level it’s roughly even.

Then you can continue the analysis. Both the offenses are very good, so the Colts are more than 62% to score against straight defense, and the Pats are more than 36% to score as well. This supports allowing the Colts to score.

However, if you play defense, the Colts might score but still allow some time for a comeback. This supports playing defense.

Possibly the best decision is to play extremely risky defense with some kind of all-out blitz. This increases the chances of a big stop, and also increases the chances of an immediate touchdown.

The worst thing that could’ve happened for the Patriots is what did happen, with the Colts scoring while milking the clock.

I thought the same thing immediately after the turnover own downs. I wasn’t completely sure, but I thought “Hmm, maybe they should just let the Colts run it in on the next down so they get the ball back with 1:30 on the clock.” But as hard as the decision to go for it on 4th down was, a decision to let the other team score is even harder to make.

Plus, what if he had let them score and the Pats still lost? He might have been lynched in the Foxboro parking lot.

I disagree. These are the two situations:

Colts down 6, first and goal at the 1, roughly 1:00 remaining (clock running)
Colts up 1, kicking off, roughly 1:00 remaining

The Colts are more likely to win in the first situation than in the second.

You should agree with this too, because it’s basically the same argument you’re making about letting the Colts score originally.

There was 1:57 left when the 4th down play ended. If you recall, they went immediately to the 2-minute warning. Are you saying that, had the Patriots decided to play no defense, a Colts player should have opted to not score and down himself at the 1-yard line? …knowing that his team needed a TD and not a FG? I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this ever done in the NFL. I’m not saying that it would be a bad decision by a player. It would just be extremely ballsy, far ballsier than the Belichick decision. Missed FG’s from the 1-yard line are extremely rare. Successful goal-line stands from the 1-yard line are not that rare.

I disagree. I think Pats fans would happily give the ball to Brady with 1:30 remaining with only a FG needed for win, even with no timeouts. At least the team controls its own outcome.

Well, sure. The reason that the Pats would let the Colts score is that they think they’re more likely to win that way. If you accept this, then the Colts are more likely to win by not scoring immediately.

It’s exactly the same as the MJD thing. It was logical for the Jets to want him to score, and by the same logic the Jags didn’t want to score.

In the game, when the Colts got to the one, they let the clock run way down before trying to score, so the Pats would have no time for a comeback. What percentage of the time do you think the Colts punch that in? Maybe 90%? I doubt they can stop Brady driving for a winning FG 90% of the time.

Belichick made the right call; it just didn’t work. See Gregg Easterbrook (probably the most brilliant football analyst out there) explaining why it was a smart move to go for it.

Basically if the play works, the Pats win. If it doesn’t, he’s really not all that worse off than if he punted. One factor that Easterbrook points out that everyone calling for Belichick’s head overlooks was that the Patriots’ defense was tired. They were probably not up to stopping Manning even if the Colts were an extra 30 yards down the field. What’s that? One play?

It was a smart move. It didn’t work, but if it had (and the odds were in favor of it succeeding) the Patriots win.

As Easterbrook asks, “Which seems like a better gamble – 2 yards to win the game, or two minutes to shut down Peyton Manning when the Colts are hot?”

I agree with Easterbrook on a lot of his 4th down stuff. He’s also an entertaining writer. Having said that, this:

is ludicrous :).

Did you even read the OP?

Really, the Patriots made mistakes all over the place in that final drive. If you are going to go for it on 4th why not run on third to keep the clock running and to get an extra yard or yard and a half? Why all the time outs? It wasn’t a shining moment in anotherwise really good game for the pats.
I am not sure I agree that he is stupid for not just allowing them to score from 30 yards out. Although, I do agree that defenders should have been told that if anyone is within the 5 to keep their hands off and let them through. That’s what the Jets defenders were told in that Jones-Drew play. But, his coaches had told him to just down it so he knew what to do about it beforehand.

Fun game for sure, though.

Funny, Easterbrook was my reason for thinking that Belichick made a mistake.

Do people think that sports threads are their own personal twitter accounts? Your response has nothing to do with the point of the OP. At least Post 2 was ambiguous enough that I couldn’t tell if he read the OP. You clearly did not.

Here’s why - the Patriots had held Indianapolis to seven drives of 5 plays or less throughout the game, two of which were the result of interceptions. Yes, Manning would have the luxury of going for it on 4th down now, but the Patriots defense had actually done quite a good job that night (the previous 70 yard drive notwithstanding).