It’s comforting to know that several players on the New England Patriots were just as shocked as the rest of us that head coach Bill Belichick decided to use the wind as an advantage instead of take the ball first in overtime.
I understand that it turned out Belichick was right to defer. However, one has to wonder what the thought process was to give Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning the ball first with the game on the line. Obviously, the wind was affecting Manning greatly, but nonetheless, the man is an outstanding quarterback who is no stranger to winning football games in cold weather.
It was certainly amusing watching New England’s captains struggle to explain to the referee that they didn’t want the ball while looking back at Belichick to make sure they were doing the right thing.
“We all looked at each other like he was crazy — then we all asked again and again and again,” Logan Mankins told Comcast SportsNet’s Postgame Live, according to CSN New England. “And we just wanted to make sure we were doing exactly what he wanted.”
Belichick has taken gambles before and come out on the losing end, which is why a majority of New England was appalled by the decision. The biggest issue wasn’t comprehending Belichick choosing to play defense first, it was more of the fact that Denver was dominating the running game, which the wind had no effect on.
The 280 rushing yards were off the charts. I have to imagine if the Broncos decided to run the ball more on the first series in overtime the game might have gone a different way, and the New England media would’ve had to sit through another brutal press conference.