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Monday, January 17, 2011
Belichick, Brady defend strategy

ESPNBoston.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Though many fans have faulted the New England Patriots for what they perceived was a lack of urgency during one fourth-quarter drive, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady both defended their strategy Monday morning.

The Patriots got the ball deep in their own territory with 12:55 remaining and, trailing by two scores (10 points), had a run-heavy approach that ate up nearly 8 minutes on the clock. Seven of the 14 plays on the drive -- and three of the first five -- were runs.

The drive, which stalled at the Jets' 34 after a failed fourth-down conversion, ended with the Patriots still trailing by 10 with just 5:15 remaining in a game they went on to lose, 28-21.

Why not opt for the hurry-up approach instead of a run-heavy strategy?

Brady explained during his weekly interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI that the Patriots were just taking what the Jets, who were set up to defend the pass, were giving them.

"It wasn't a two-touchdown game. Had we scored a touchdown, it would have been a three-point game with four minutes left," Brady said. "They had a lot of dime groupings out there, six defensive backs, so it's hard to think that we're going to go out there and throw the ball all day on that grouping. We said, 'We're going to take advantage of this and still try to get the ball downfield.' We did, but when we got down to the 15-yard line, we just sputtered.

"If we were down 15 points, it's a different story. But being down 10 points, we thought we could score a touchdown. Then with two timeouts and four minutes left, we had plenty of time to get down the field and hope we could kick a field goal to send it to overtime."

Brady's explanation falls in line with what Belichick said after the game Sunday.

"They were playing a lot of DB, pass coverages," Belichick said. "We thought we had some good opportunities to run it. Some worked out, some we could have handled better."

Belichick said during a Monday news conference that if he had it to do over again, he wouldn't have gone to more of a hurry-up approach.

"If we score on that drive, it's a one-score game with five minutes to go," he said. "It's not the position you want to be in, but it's not a bad position to be in."