FOXBORO, Mass. — While New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick admitted he second guesses things “all the time,” he doesn’t appear to believe his decisions to go for it on fourth down twice in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game in Denver were wrong.
Down by eight, the Patriots elected to go for it on a pair of fourth downs late in their 20-18 loss to the Denver Broncos. Simple math says if they had attempted a field goal on just one of those plays, then the outcome might have been different. But there’s nothing simple about those decisions.
The Patriots had only scored one touchdown all day against the No. 1 defense in the league, so there was no guarantee they would get another chance to put points on the board. So Belichick decided to put the ball in quarterback Tom Brady’s hands to make a play, and the desired results just didn’t follow.
The first decision to go for it came with over six minutes left in the game. But New England only needed to pick up 1 yard on the play from the Denver 16 for a first down, so it decided to roll the dice.
“Time and the number of possessions that you have left and what we needed to do — the number of opportunities we would have to do that,” Belichick said Monday of going for it on fourth down the first time. “There weren’t very many … at the time, yeah, there was no hesitation in doing that.”
And the same can be said for the second try, especially considering how much time was left on the clock.
“There were two-and-a-half minutes to go in the game, down by eight, fourth-and-5 (fourth-and-6) or whatever it was,” Belichick said. “Yeah, we felt like the best thing to do was to go for it at that point, yeah.”
Regrets are a part of life, and even Belichick isn’t immune to them. But his regret list doesn’t include going for it on fourth down Sunday.
Thumbnail photo via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images