Bill Belichick's decision to try for a first down on 4th-and-2 late in Sunday night's game against the Colts is drawing lots of criticism. With a six-point lead and the ball on their own 28-yard line with 2:08 remaining, the Patriots elected to go for the first down. Brady completed a short pass to Kevin Faulk, who appeared to catch the ball past the first-down line, but did not establish possession until he was plowed backwards by Colts safety Melvin Bullitt. (Video of the play is embedded below.) The Colts took possession and quickly drove down the short field to score a game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds remaining.
The decision was immediately criticized by announcers and analysts. On NBC, Rodney Harrison called it "the worst coaching decision I've ever seen Bill Belichick make." Jay Mariotti derided Belichick's call as "inexplicably arrogant" and "football suicide." On SportsCenter Trent Dilfer called the decision "ludicrous" and "absolutely ridiculous." And Jim Litke of the AP referred to it as "a reckless gamble."
Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders debated the wisdom of the play itself, asking, "When you need two yards to ice the game, is it better to send everyone on two-yard patterns, or to send everyone on THREE-yard patterns and give a little room for error?"
Others have defended the call. Jeff Ma blogged about the decision on HuffPost, writing that "38 yards in field position is not worth giving up a 60% opportunity to keep Peyton Manning on the sidelines." Wayne Winston concluded that "if the Colts have a greater than 50% chance of scoring a TD after the punt, then Belichick made the right move." Dan Shanoff and David Aldridge also defended Belichick's decision.
The Patriots fall to 6-3 with the loss, a record shared by three other AFC teams, and trail the Bengals for a coveted first-round bye.
Full video highlights here.
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