The Patriots didn’t score until the fourth quarter of their 27-17 loss to the Colts on Saturday night, but they still managed to make a convincing comeback against a conference contender.
They scored three of their four possessions in that period, but one call by coach Bill Belichick during that increase left many people confused.
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New England scored the third goal in the 7 Colts with 9:08 left. McJones threw a lane intended for Hunter Henry out of the end zone.
It was assumed that the Patriots were going to land with very little time left. It is likely that they would have needed to score two TD points to overcome the deficit that was then 20-7.
Instead, Belichick chose to shoot the field goal. This cut the Colts’ lead to 10, but left the Patriots little room for error below the span. New England held and then scored a touchdown to cut the lead to three, but was unable to get a much-needed stopping point in the Colts’ next possession. Jonathan Taylor cut 67 yards off the touchdown with 2:01 to wrap up Indianapolis’ win.
So why did Belichick go to the field goal earlier in the quarter? He did not provide much analysis when asked during a post-match press conference.
“I did what I thought was best for the team,” he said.
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The numbers suggest that Belichick’s decision may not have been the best option. According to ESPN’s Seth Walder, the Patriots’ probability of winning dropped from 9.5 percent to 5.8 percent when Belichick chose to kick.
The Patriots fourth and the goal of the Colts 7
WP go: 9.5%
WP kick: 5.8%
– Seth Walder December 19 2021
This adds. After all, the Patriots were betting on stopping the Colts’ quick attack that came in by averaging 151.7 yards per game – the second most in the NFL – twice while also battling on the clock. This is a tough job even for a good defense like New England.
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While Belichick was conservative, Frank Reich and the Colts were aggressive in play calls, especially when driving past the field goal. The ponies had a fourth and one of 43 and they went for it. They succeeded and were able to run an extra two minutes on the clock, which proved crucial.
But as Belichick pointed out many times, not a single decision stopped his team from winning.
“I don’t think we trained or played well enough to win tonight,” he said. “Across the board.”