- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The rush to question the IQ count and arrogance of Bill Belichick goes with his decision to defy conventional wisdom.

He eschewed the punt on fourth-and-2 on his team’s 28 with 2:08 left.

The move backfired after Tom Brady’s pass to Kevin Faulk resulted in a brief juggle that allowed Melvin Bullitt to push the running back inside the 30, short of the first down.

Or so head linesman Tom Stabile ruled.

Replays appeared to show that Faulk gained possession of the ball while he was a step beyond the first-down marker at the 30.

Because they were out of timeouts, the Patriots could not challenge the spot of the ball, as they undoubtedly would have.

Of course, the Patriots ended up losing the game, and Belichick was declared the goat of the game, as if Peyton Manning and the Colts would have been stifled by a 40-yard punt that left them about 70 yards from the end zone.

A punt would have been the proper move if the game featured anyone but Brady and Manning, the top two quarterbacks in the NFL and certain Hall of Fame bets.

That was one of the principal considerations before Belichick.

The chance to deliver the death blow was in Brady’s hands. Do you turn that chance over to Manning, the football egghead who spends much of his free time studying film?

If you do, you do not feel especially confident about it, not when Manning already has sliced up your defense on the previous two possessions, not when your defense looks fatigued, beat.

It came down to this: Brady needing two yards on one play vs. Manning going against a tired defense.

You just needed guts to come down on the side of Brady.

It was hardly evidence of faulty thinking. Or arrogance.

“I thought it was our best chance to win,” Belichick said. “I thought we needed to make that one play, and then we could basically run out the clock.”

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