Fourth and 2 from your own 28
Jan 01, 2010Posted by james

The New England Patriots clinched the AFC East division title last weekend and the world is right again with Bill Belichick.

Belichick, the Patriots coach, took a lot of heat from the press and fans a month ago when he decided late in the game to go for it on fourth and 2 from the Patriots own 28 yard line. The Patriots were up by 6 with 2:08 left in the game against the Indianapolis Colts and the common sense play was to punt the ball away. As you all probably know by now, the Patriots didn’t make the first down and Peyton Manning took the Colts in for a game winning touchdown.

The criticism was immediate and intense. The Monday Morning Quarterbacks and sports pundits argued that Belichick should have punted the ball to force Manning to go the length of the field. They said he should have gone with the percentages and wondered if he had lost his mind.

But regardless of the game’s outcome, I believe that Belichick made the right decision to go for it. He took a calculated risk based on his knowledge of the game and his team. He knew that his team had given up 2 touchdowns already in the fourth quarter and were tired. It was obvious to Belichick that giving the ball back to the Colts with 2:08 remaining in the game would leave plenty of time for Manning to deliver the ball down the field. And making the first down would have ended the game.*

The bigger picture here is Belichick’s strong leadership skills. His decision might have gone against conventional wisdom, but that is what makes him a great coach. He trusted his instincts and didn’t worry about how he would be judged or by what convention would say to do. He has the unwavering confidence that leaders need and the courage to stand by his decisions.

* By the way, here’s an interesting analysis showing that Belicheck’s call was actually the higher percentage play. Let me know what you think.



  • By Bruce L, January 5, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

    No way they were going to stop the Colts the way the were playing. You play to win the game, not please the critics.

  • By AJS, January 13, 2010 @ 8:53 am

    Good point. I don’t like the guy, but you have to admit he knows how to coach and he doesn’t care what anyone else thinks.

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