I was planning on writing another Rookie Review tonight after the Colts-Patriots game, but this was too good to pass up. I’ll be up front here, I hate the Patriots. Actually, more specifically, I hate Bill Belichick and I hate Tom Brady. I don’t hate them as much as Weller does, but they cheated my Rams out of a Super Bowl and I don’t tolerate cheaters.
Anyway, tonight was the annual Manning-Brady Bowl that is usually too hyped up for just two players. There are 42 other guys on the field. Let’s give them a bit of credit, too. Tonight, however, the game didn’t disappoint. It look like it was going to be the Brady-Moss show through three quarters (try as I might, I just can’t hate Randy Moss. He’s just so good). Moss put up 179 yards and 2 TDs against a depleted Colts secondary. But it wasn’t quite enough…
After an early 4th quarter score, the Patriots were up 31-14. Insurmountable lead with Brady and Belichick, right? Nope.
I almost turned the game off, but there was nothing else on TV and I was playing FIFA 10, so I left it on. The Colts just kept chipping away at the lead, pulling it to 34-28 with 2:23 left. The Colts decided to kick it deep and the Pats started on their own 20. The Colts had three time outs left plus the two minute warning, so they would get the ball back with some time left and most likely zero or one time out left.
Well, that’s when Bill Belichick decided to show off just how big of an arrogant prick he was and make one of the stupidest coaching decisions I have ever seen. I’m not even sure I can get this sequence of events correct because they were so dumb.
First, Belichick calls timeout on first down. Kevin Faulk rushes up the middle for no gain and the Colts use their first timeout. On second down, Brady passed to Wes Welker for a gain of eight. The Colts call their second timeout. The pass is dangerous here, but it’s been effective all night, so it’s excusable, still, just run the ball, force them to use their time outs and punt it deep. This isn’t hard for every coach in the NFL except the arrogant ones.
On third down and two, Belichick again elects to pass even though his running backs are averaging four yards a carry. I’m no mathematician, but four yards gives you a first down and essentially a win. The Colts blitz, forcing Brady to get rid of the ball quickly and it’s almost picked off. I was reminded of something my Dad used to say when we watched games when I was little (he would later say this exact phrase after I called him): “Three things can happen when you throw the ball…two of them are bad.”
Well now the Colts don’t have to use their final time out and the Patriots should punt, right? Well, Brady stayed on the field much to the shock of everyone. Then the Patriots use their final timeout to talk it over with 2:11 left on the clock. I thought to myself, “Great, I have time to run to the bathroom while the punt unit comes on the field, I doubt they return the punt anyway.” As soon as I come out of the bathroom, I see Kevin Faulk falling onto his back, short of the first down. Bewildered, I ask my fiancée if the Patriots went for it. She said yes. I was shocked. With the ball on his own 29 yard line, the Patriots went for it and missed. This was too good to be true.
To top it off, the two time outs that Belichick burned for no reason made it so that he could not challenge the spot of the ball on the 4th down play. I don’t think it would have been overturned as Faulk didn’t have control of the ball when he was pushed back and I don’t think the video evidence would have been conclusive enough anyway, but still, we’ll never know.
So now instead of the Colts, with best quarterback in the NFL, being around their own 20 with 2:00 left and no time outs…they started on the Patriots 29 with 2:00 left and one timeout. I love Peyton, and the Colts’ offense was rolling, but still, 80 yards is a long way with no timeouts. Plus, he’d thrown two interceptions already, so it wasn’t like he was having his best game, either.
Just as I was coming out of my terrible-call-related shock, Reggie Wayne was making another spectacular catch to put the Colts in the lead with 13 seconds left.
As much as I hate Belichick, I’d be lying if I said he wasn’t a great coach. He is. But tonight, he absolutely blew a game for the Patriots against their biggest rivals. It doesn’t quite make up for cheating in the Super Bowl, but man, it was fun to watch.