FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Poor clock management at the end of the first half of the AFC Championship Game prevented the Patriots from a shot at a touchdown to extend their lead to 17-7.
After tight end Aaron Hernandez caught a pass and took the ball down to the 10-yard line, the Patriots took their second timeout of the half with 26 seconds remaining.
The Patriots had a fresh set of downs and one more timeout at their disposal, and on first down, quarterback Tom Brady scrambled for a four-yard gain.
But rather than taking an immediate timeout with 19 seconds remaining and the clock running, the Patriots shuffled to the line in an attempt to spike the football to stop the clock.
The offense wasn’t able to move quickly enough, and eventually Brady and coach Bill Belichick simultaneously called a timeout with four seconds remaining.
By that time, the only remaining option was to attempt a chip-shot field goal, which kicker Stephen Gostkowski hit to put the Patriots up 13-7.
Belichick said after the game that his team didn’t give any thought to taking the timeout immediately after Brady was touched down on the scramble.
“Not really, no, because I thought we could get up there, or we wanted to try to get up there and clock it and have time to run a play and have the timeout to kick the field goal,” he said. “So no, not really. I guess if we had known that it would take as long as it did to get the ball finally clocked, but then we didn’t get a great look on the play. Tom actually called timeout at the same time I did so we just didn’t have it.”
Brady echoed Belichick’s explanation that the Patriots wanted to rush to the line of scrimmage to preserve their timeout for another chance to stop the clock before a field goal attempt.
“Well, we had one timeout left so we were trying to save that for the field goal,” he said after the game. “I would have loved to get the touchdown there, but we settled for the field goal to go up, whatever it was, 13-7 at the half.”