New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MA – DECEMBER 29: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots hands off the ball to Sony Michel #26 during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

By Ty Anderson,

FOXBOROUGH — Evened up at 10-10 with under two minutes remaining in the first half, and after stalling the Dolphins for no gain on third down, the Patriots seemed perfectly positioned for one of their famous double-scores.

But the Patriots opted not to call a timeout, which would have given them the ball with over a minute and a half and two timeouts left, and instead let the Dolphins bleed the clock all the way down to a minute before Matt Haack’s boot.

And getting the call with 57 seconds left, the Patriots were more than content to sit on the tied contest, running two run plays before running back to the locker room for an early jump on a halftime break.

The decision was met with some straight-up vicious boos from an antsy Gillette Stadium crowd, and it hardly made any more sense following a 27-24 loss that’s locked the Pats into their first wild card weekend game in a decade.

Naturally, it was one of the first topics brought up during Bill Belichick’s postgame meeting with the media.

“We would’ve done that if we got a first down,” Belichick said when asked about the decision not to go for the points.

For the record, the first play the Patriots ran out on that final drive was an up-the-middle handoff to Sony Michel for a two-yard loss. Not sure that such a call was ever really going to be considered a high-percentage look in terms of gaining that crucial first down with under a minute to go. And with their answer creating more questions than anything else, Belichick was once again asked about the decision to (metaphorically) punt on a scoring drive with time seemingly on their side before Haack’s punt.

“If we’d gotten a first down, we would have done that,” Belichick repeated.

(Again, this is where you’d feel relatively comfortable questioning the urgency for said first down on a Michel plunge.)

But Belichick also noted that he had no interest in potentially giving the Dolphins, who still had all three of their timeouts, the ball back and with time to do some damage should the Patriots’ plans for a double-score backfire.

“We’d see what kind of field position we got, and then if we could advance the ball, then we’d take them,” Belichick offered. “But, we didn’t want to give the ball back with their timeouts at the end of the half, either.”

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, meanwhile, seemed to understand why the Patriot offense wasn’t exactly given the benefit of the doubt when it came to moving the ball efficiently enough to put them within striking distance.

“We weren’t executing great, so I can understand the decision,” Brady, who finished the first half with 92 yards and an interception on a 5-for-12 start, said. “But, it was a lot of things today.”

Things that have put the Patriots in one difficult spot in their attempt to return to the Super Bowl.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.