BOSTON (CBS) -- On Saturday night, the Patriots trailed 20-7 in the fourth quarter. They faced a third-and-goal from the Colts' 2-yard line, but a false start pushed them back to the 7-yard line. An incompletion brought up fourth down, and Bill Belichick sent the field goal unit onto the field to cut Indy's lead to 20-10 with 9 minutes left in the game.
Considering the Patriots were down big, the decision to kick with such limited time left in the game raised some eyebrows. When asked about his decision after the game, Belichick went with his stock answer of doing what he felt was best for the team.
He actually gave that same answer on Monday morning when asked again about the decision. But when pressed for a follow-up, Belichick went deep on his thought process for kicking the field goal instead of trying to score a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 7-yard line.
Here's what he said:
Well, it's still a two-possession game, and now it's a field goal. And, you know, I thought there was enough time left that we would have enough possessions to be able to score 10 points -- which, you know, we conceivably could have [if not for Jonathan Taylor's 67-yard touchdown run].
It was fourth-and-goal on the 7. ... I mean, I didn't feel great about converting fourth-and-goal from the 7. Had there been less time and ... it's situational. There's a point where you would go for it, or I would go for it on fourth-and-goal at the 7, absolutely. I didn't think in that game situation that that would have been the best decision. I thought that would have passed up three points and then it would have taken two touchdowns [if the fourth-down play failed].
And you know, at the end of the game, being able to -- especially in the dome -- have a chance at a 50-plus-yard field goal, I think it's a lot better chance than scoring a touchdown. And, having a six-point differential as opposed to a three-point differential relative to the chances of converting the fourth-and-7.
But at some point I definitely would have kept the offense on the field on fourth-and-7 with with less time or no timeouts or -- I mean, you can certainly take that scenario further and so then you get into the gray area of which one would you do if it was less time, fewer timeouts, you know, whatever.
The Patriots nearly worked this plan exactly as Belichick envisioned. After kicking the field goal, the Patriots did allow a five-minute possession from the Colts. But that drive ended with a punt. New England then drove 74 yards in just 87 seconds to score a touchdown to cut Indy's lead to 20-17 with 2:25 left to play.
The Patriots needed to force a three-and-out in order to get the ball back with about 1:10 or so left in the game, needing a field goal to tie. Yet on second-and-8 from the Indy 33-yard line, Jonathan Taylor magnificently cut back after hitting a hole and went 67 yards untouched for a game-sealing touchdown, thwarting the Patriots' comeback chances.
Belichick said that the kickoff unit didn't get the job done prior to that Colts possession, too, saying the goal on the pop-up kick was to pin the Colts deep. Instead, Nyheim Hines had a 20-yard return to get to the Colts' 31-yard line.
"That was poorly executed on our part. That wasn't what we were looking for at all," Belichick said of the kickoff. "Either you pin them back and play the extra yards of field position -- you know, tackle him on the 20 and gain five yards of field position when we need a field goal. Or you touchback it and keep the extra seconds on the clock. We did neither. We didn't get the field position. And we wasted five seconds -- which at the end of the game, is another play. So like a lot of things in the game, it was bad coaching, bad playing, bad execution, just not good enough."
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