Rob Gronkowski made one of the difference-making plays of the Patriots’ win over the Texans late in the second quarter. Hauling in a 28-yard catch deep down the middle to set up the Patriots’ eventual touchdown that put them up 21-6 at halftime, Gronkowski appeared to not have full control of the football. But the play was ruled a catch – and more importantly, the Patriots rushed up to the line and ran another play before the officials could review it.
That moment led to some criticism for Texans head coach Bill O’Brien. He couldn’t have challenged the catch since there were under two minutes left in the half, but he certainly could’ve used one of his three timeouts. Just a little extra time for the officials may have given them a chance to potentially overturn the catch, and make the Patriots’ drive that much harder. The officials’ slowness to review the catch even led to the Texans’ Aaron Colvin basically accusing the Pats of cheating.
O’Brien pushed back against questions about his decision not to call a timeout in his postgame remarks, but he reversed course when addressing reporters on Monday after checking the tape. Though he said he has the benefit of hindsight, he admits that it would’ve been a good decision to call the timeout and at least get a review of the play.
O’Brien: “Hindsight being 20-20 ... surely I would have taken a timeout to see if they would at least buzz down to take a look at the play.” pic.twitter.com/EvbdMZ4DmB— Brian T. Smith (@ChronBrianSmith) September 10, 2018
He clearly felt bothered by the questions right after the game about the play and the situation in the game at the time. Here’s how the exchange with the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain went, according to the transcript:
Q: 1:09 left in the first half, [Rob] Gronkowski made a catch that looked like he didn’t. Did you think about calling a timeout?
BO: No. It’s not my job to do that. Let me make it clear, that I don’t have challenges with two minutes to go. So we are all clear on that.
Q: I mean, could you have taken a time out, hoping he would have [inaudible].
BO: Yeah, great, I guess so John.
Q: Do you think they blew it?
BO: I don’t have any idea, John. I will have to watch that on tape. That’s not my job to call a time out, to make their job easier. You know, what I am trying to do is make sure we go into halftime with a 14-6 lead. I mean, down 14-6. Say I call a time out there, they rule it a catch, now the Patriots have more time to put a play together. You know, whatever you are going to write, you are going to write. But that’s not my job to do that.
O’Brien changed his tune now that he’s gotten a second look. In actuality, he shouldn’t have needed the benefit of “hindsight” to know that he was best off giving the officials a chance to review the play. The Texans were better off with the chance of the Gronkowski catch being overturned and making the Patriots run another play. The fact that O’Brien didn’t want to give the Pats another chance ended up not mattering.
In a lot of ways, Sunday was another coaching clinic for Bill Belichick against several of his former understudies. O’Brien’s questionable decision-making played a big role in the Texans’ futility, especially in the first half.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff 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 Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.