If you missed the last five minutes of last night’s game between the Colts and Patriots–which is not a rivalry but a fine matchup nonetheless–you saw Bill Belichick instantly shed the label of “coaching genius” when he sent his offense back out onto the field for a 4th and 2 play from his own 28 yard line. With a six-point lead, Tom Brady threw a screen pass to Kevin Faulk, who bobbled the ball in front of the chains, completed the catch, and was knocked backwards by the Colts’ defense. The ball was spotted short of the first down just before the 2-minute warning, and the Patriots, having used two timeouts on their very short drive, could not challenge the call. Peyton drives the Colts down the short field for a Reggie Wayne TD catch, and the extra point seals a 35-34 Colts win.
There’s only so many ways to say “insane.” Belichick didn’t seem confident after the failed 3rd and 2 pass that he was planning to go for it all along. Who throws it when (a) you need two plays for two yards, and (b) you’re trying to kill the clock, even if Tom Brady is your quarterback?
Was Belichick so immersed in his own excellence that he just assumed he could get the two yards? Or was he so convinced that Peyton Manning was going to beat him anyway? Of course, if Belichick gets his two yards, we’re not having this discussion, but that still doesn’t mean it wasn’t the dumbest call ever.