Titans Used Bill Belichick’s Game Clock Scheme Against Him In Patriots Loss


January 5, 2020

FOXBORO, Mass. — If you thought the fourth quarter of the New England Patriots’ wild-card round loss to the Tennessee Titans flew by, you’re not wrong.

Almost two minutes were drained off the clock during a smart series of decisions by Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel.

The last play of the Titans’ eighth possession came with 6:39 left on the clock. The Titans drained the clock and took a delay of game before punting. The delay of game occurred with 5:52 left on the clock. Then, 23 more seconds drained off the clock before the Titans committed a false start penalty with 5:29 left on the clock. Patriots special teamer Justin Bethel committed a neutral-zone infraction after 15 more seconds came off the clock with 5:14 left in the game. After 23 more seconds drained, the Titans punted with 4:51 on the clock. The Patriots took possession with 4:44 left in the game.

Belichick appeared frustrated at the time.

From the Titans’ final offensive play to the Patriots’ next possession, one minute and 55 seconds came off of the game clock. From the time of the Titans’ first delay of game until the Patriots’ next offensive play, one minute and eight seconds drained off of the clock.

“We?ve talked about this before,” Belichick said after the game. “It?s the same thing we?ve talked about before, there?s no change.”

A similar situation occurred earlier in the season against the New York Jets when the Belichick similarly ran time off of the clock by committing consecutive penalties before a punt.

?It was just the way the rules are set up,? Belichick said in October. ?We were able to run quite a bit of time off the clock without really having to do anything. That?s probably a loophole that will be closed — and probably should be closed — but right now, it?s open.?

The Patriots punted after just four offensive plays after taking possession with 4:44 left on the clock. New England forced Tennessee to punt on their ensuing drive, but only after 2:55 had come off of the clock.

The Patriots’ final drive started on their own 1-yard line with 15 seconds left. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw a pick-six to Titans cornerback Logan Ryan on the first play of the possession. The game ended on the Titans’ ensuing kickoff.

Tennessee Titans cornerback Logan Ryan
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