By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
One week into the 2018 NFL season and the New England Patriots are already back to their cheating ways.
Well, at least that appeared to be the insinuation from Texans cornerback Aaron Colvin following Sunday’s 27-20 Patriots win.
In the midst of their downright surgical two-minute drill to close out the second quarter with another seven points in what was a 21-point first half, Tom Brady somehow found tight end Rob Gronkowski in what was triple-coverage defense from Houston. Still, Gronkowski made the grab, even as he — and the ball — appeared to take a tumbling route to the ground.
“I did make the catch,” said Gronkowski. “I don’t know how. When I went to the ground I had it stable in my hand, so it was definitely a catch, but Tom went up to the line really quick just to make sure. We got the play off, which was nice.”
But knowing the undeniable tightness of such a catch — and the general confusion that comes with every ‘catch’ review in the modern day NFL — Brady and the Patriots frantically rushed to the line and got their play off before a review could come.
This most certainly bothered Colvin, it seems. But for an utterly absurd reason, really.
Aaron Colvin on the Rob Gronkowski catch "It's tough man, but I mean we're playing in New England. So you know what that means."— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) September 9, 2018
First of all, gotta give my respect to Colvin for finding the tinfoil hat Steelers coach Mike Tomlin keeps in the road locker room.
But this is pure stupidity, and let’s outline why.
Given the fact that the catch came within the final two minutes of the first half, any decision to review a play had to come from the booth. The booth did want to review the catch, by the way, but that decision came as the Patriots were in the midst of snapping the ball and erasing the possibility of such a review, according to NFL referee Tony Corrente.
“The situation was that New York did get back to us,” Corrente, who confirmed they can’t call for a challenge after the snap, said. “However, unfortunately, they didn’t get to the game officials on the field until after the play had already started.”
Corrente also said that Texans coach Bill O’Brien would have been penalized had he thrown a challenge flag there.
O’Brien was quick to point that out to reporters when discussing the play.
“Let me make it clear, that I don’t have challenges with two minutes to go,” O’Brien said. “So we are all clear on that.”
But that doesn’t mean O’Brien did not have an option to try and get a potential challenge from the booth initiated on time.
Still possessing his own timeouts, O’Brien easily could have called a timeout to give the booth some additional time to decide if they wanted to go through with a review. This would have opened the door to the uncertainty of what a catch is (a wild game if there ever was one), and could have seen the Patriots backed up close to 30 yards with less than a minute left to play. When alerted about this option — one that went unused, of course — during his postgame presser, O’Brien got testy with reporters.
“Yeah, great,” O’Brien said, “I guess so.”
When asked if he was disappointed that the catch didn’t come with a review, O’Brien opted for a copout.
“I have no idea,” O’Brien said. “These are all questions that I probably should have said in the beginning. These are questions for Al Riveron and the NFL, not for me. They are not questions for me. It’s not my job, you know.”
See, but calling a timeout and utilizing whatever you can to ensure a proper look at a potential incompletion is your job, and it feels rather obvious that Colvin should, uh, understand and/or expect that from his head coach.
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that Colvin was part of that Jacksonville Jaguars team that straight-up collapsed in the fourth quarter of the 2017 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium, and felt victimized by several calls that benefitted the Pats.
But today, it wasn’t Gillette Stadium’s fault that O’Brien’s in-game coaching and decision-making was abysmal at best.
Ty Anderson is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.