Monday, November 16, 2009
Coach takes blame for wasted timeout
By Mike Reiss
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The morning after a heartbreaking loss to the Colts, coach Bill Belichick revisited his risky decision to go for it on fourth down while also detailing the Patriots' uncharacteristic struggles in burning valuable timeouts.
Belichick repeated what he said Sunday night, saying that he felt the decision to go for it on fourth-and-2 from the Patriots' 28-yard line, with 2:08 remaining, gave the team the best chance to win.
Would he do it again?
"You only get one chance," Belichick said, avoiding the question.
The explosive Colts offense was surely a factor in the decision, as it had covered 79 yards on six plays, in 1:49, on its previous drive. Earlier in the fourth quarter, the Colts had another 79-yard touchdown drive, in just 2:04. Belichick lauded Reggie Wayne, who scored the game-winning touchdown, "the best receiver we cover every year."
As for the Patriots' late-game breakdown, Belichick explained the struggles with wasting timeouts, which for a team that prides itself on acing those situations were uncharacteristic mistakes.
Having burned all three second-half timeouts, Belichick couldn't challenge the officials' spot on running back Kevin Faulk's fourth-down reception, in which Faulk was over the first-down marker but was deemed to have bobbled the ball and thus was not granted forward progress as safety Melvin Bullitt drove him back.
The Patriots wasted their final timeout before the fourth-down play when they initially sent their punt team on the field.
"We had a little miscommunication on that. Once some of the guys on the punt team started out, then the guys on offense they started to come off," Belichick said, noting the decision had been made on third down that they wouldn't punt. "That wasn't cleanly handled. I'll take responsibility for that."
The team's second timeout was used at the start of the Patriots' final drive. Quarterback Tom Brady said Sunday that the team had a personnel mix-up, with Belichick explaining Monday that he wanted to play it safe.
"It was a situation where it was obviously a critical play, we were heading into a series and wanted to make sure everything was right," he said. "Tom [Brady], [offensive line coach] Dante Scarnecchia, [quarterbacks coach] Billy [O'Brien] and I wanted to make sure we had that exactly the way we wanted it because there was an option on the play so rather than run the play, we took a timeout to make sure we had it straight."
The team's first timeout was taken early in the third quarter when the offense was not lined up properly. Receiver Wes Welker called the timeout, which Belichick said was a good decision, one he was about to make himself.
The team arrived home at 5 a.m. Monday and players will be off until Wednesday, when preparations begin for their next game, Sunday at home against the Jets.
But before looking ahead, Belichick and his staff are currently going through the process of reviewing the heartbreaking loss in Indianapolis.
"It's disappointing to come up short in a game like that," Belichick said. "I think we all feel it, as we should. We put a lot into it. There were a lot of plays in that game that you think about."
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.