New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick made a questionable decision with less than nine minutes left in what turned out to be a 27-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Belichick opted for the Patriots to kick a field goal while trailing 20-7 with 8:57 left in the game. It came as the Patriots had the ball on the Indianapolis 7-yard line after having advanced down to the 4-yard line before one of their eight penalties pushed them back.
Mac Jones threw incompletions on first and third downs while Brandon Bolden gained two yards on a rushing attempt. A false start penalty on Michael Onwenu moved the Patriots from 3rd-and-goal at the 2-yard line to 3rd-and-goal at the seven. Jones’ second incompletion was intended for tight end Hunter Henry.
Belichick then chose to send on Nick Folk for a 25-yard field goal, and while the made kick cut New England’s deficit to 20-10, it kept it a two-possession game with valuable time ticking away.
“I did what I thought was best for the team,” Belichick responded when asked about the decision after the loss.
The Patriots then allowed the Colts to take five minutes off the clock as Indianapolis used eight plays on its next offensive possession. The defense not getting off the field essentially made the decision a failure. So, while Jones and the Patriots did get the ball back, and even scored a touchdown with 2:21 left to cut their deficit to 20-17, the Colts were able to hold on with the help of a long touchdown run by Jonathan Taylor on the second play of the drive.
Should the Patriots have forced a punt on that possession (or the possession before), well, Belichick’s decision might have paid off. Given the way it did play out, though, it’s certainly worthy of a second guess.