Mazz: Did Bill Belichick lose track of the time?
Of all the things that transpired in Foxboro on Sunday here is perhaps the most startling question: did Bill Belichick lose track of the time?
Or, perhaps, did he just grossly distort the facts to defend a decision that may have been … well … indefensible?
If you were watching during the New England Patriots’ 25-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday, you know what we’re talking about. The Patriots trailed in the fourth quarter, 22-14. After having already converted a fourth-and-8 from the Philadelphia 36-yard line, the Patriots faced a fourth-and-3 from the Philadelphia 17. Belichick elected to go for it rather than attempt a 35-yard chippie for a field goal – and the Pats were stopped, turning the ball over on downs.
After the game, Belichick offered a curious explanation that was either blatantly deceitful or downright clueless.
“Made the best decision we could at the time,” Belichick said. “Didn’t know we would be down there multiple times. Six minutes to go in the game. I don’t know. If we had kicked it, I’m sure you would be asking why didn’t we go for it.”
He’s right, we would be, but what wasn’t the real problem:
There was 9:39 to play.
Wait … what?
Here’s the actual comment:
Obviously, there’s a lot to discuss from this play. Maybe you would have gone for it. Maybe you would have kicked. Football fans have debated those kinds of decisions forever. But the clock is indisputable. And Belichick wasn’t even close. The difference between his comment (“six minutes to go”) and reality (9:39 left) is also a relative eternity. Was he just confused after the game or was he confused during it? Or did he stretch the truth, as he is wont to do, because he didn’t like the question?
Whatever the case, it’s a bad look for the Patriots. Worst case, it’s a scary look. One of Belichick’s greatest strengths over the years has been his ability to stay a step ahead of the game and the competition. particularly with regard to clock management – at least when Tom Brady was the quarterback. But if Belichick is now losing track of the time, that’s an entirely different matter that cannot help but make one wonder if he is simply having trouble keeping up.