Bill Belichick got exactly what he wanted when the New England Patriots kicked off to begin overtime Sunday, even if the result wasn’t ideal.
Belichick’s first choice was to kick off, because he thought it would give the Patriots an advantage in field position over the New York Jets. The idea was to stop the Jets and force them to punt, which would then put the Patriots’ offense in a better opportunity to score. Since the Patriots would be getting the ball second, a field goal would then also win the game.
It obviously didn’t work out, because the Jets scored a touchdown on their opening drive of overtime to win the game 26-20.
“I clearly thought that was our best opportunity, so that’s why we did it,” Belichick said Monday on a conference call. “Didn’t like how it worked out, but to me, that was the best decision for our team at that time.”
Patriots captain Matthew Slater made the right call when he told the officials at midfield that the Patriots wanted to kick.
“The decision was that we wanted to kick off No. 1, but No. 2, if we didn’t win the toss, then we had a preferred direction,” Belichick cleared up. “Honestly, it really didn’t make any difference. There was almost no wind in the game, so that wasn’t a big consideration. What I didn’t want to do was defend the goal, and then have them choose to kick off.
“We chose to kick off, and again, I’m not sure exactly what happened there at midfield, but we obviously didn’t have the choice of goals. They did, but we talked about that on the sideline, because that could have been our choice had the coin toss gone differently. We did talk about that, but again, the direction of the goals, I don’t think there was any wind advantage. If there was, it was very minimal and not really worth — I wouldn’t say it was worth taking the goal over.”
The “controversy” stemmed from Slater looking confused at midfield when the Patriots couldn’t choose to kick and pick the direction. Belichick had already spoken to the officials before the coin toss to confirm the Patriots wanted to kick if they won.
“For that exact reason, so there wouldn’t be any confusion about what was going on,” Belichick said. “That’s why when I was asked after the game if there was any confusion on the play, I don’t think there was any confusion. Clete came over to me after the toss and said, ‘You got what you wanted here, right?’ And I said, ‘Exactly.’ Seems like a much ado about nothing to me. I don’t understand what the issue is. What are we talking about here? What should have happened that didn’t or whatever? I don’t know.”
Thumbnail photo via Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports Images