Monday, November 25, 2013

Gone with the wind: Belichick's gutsy call pays off


The New England Patriots' captains were just as perplexed as we were.

After a epic second-half comeback that saw the Patriots erase a 24-point deficit, New England was a coin toss away from a chance to march down the field and finish the job against the Denver Broncos.

But tied 31-31 heading into overtime, Patriots coach Bill Belichick had a slightly different plan. New England won the flip, but instead of taking the ball, Belichick took the wind.

The Patriots captains had to double-check -- scratch that, triple-check -- that they heard Belichick right.

"We were just making sure -- you never want to be that bonehead out there that, your coach tells you you want the ball and we want to kick it," Patriots guard Logan Mankins said after the game, via "So we were just making sure we were doing exactly what he wanted.

"That doesn't come up very often where in overtime you say you don't want the ball, so we were just making sure we had it exactly right."

With the wind eclipsing the 20-mile-per-hour mark, New England's captains declared Belichick's intentions, and the Patriots kicked off to Peyton Manning's high-powered offense, which was struggling a bit that night.

A touchdown would've ended the game, but a field goal would have given the Patriots another possession. If the Patriots held Denver without points on the opening overtime drive, they could in turn win it with just a field goal.

Belichick's gutsy call -- one that, had it not panned out, would have gone down in infamy as arguably the most thick-skulled decision ever -- resulted in the Patriots forcing a punt, which was muffed, and Stephen Gostkowski easily split the uprights for the win.

“Bill's a genius. He's a genius," Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty said, via "I mean, even the captains didn't know. We [were] like, 'Defer? Take the wind?' And, it was obviously the best call, and it was a great call by him."

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