Somehow, Bill Belichick Became The Second Coming Of Grady Little
The Patriots were winning by 10 at the half, and even had a 17-point lead early in the 4th quarter. Yet somehow, the Patriots managed to allow Peyton Manning and the Colts to score 21 points in the last 12:14, and threw the game away.
The most shocking part of the game was the play calling from Bill Belichick. Over the course of his coaching career with the Patriots, he has been the single greatest coach in the NFL. Yet in this game, he morphed into an amateur. He was conservative when he should have been going for the jugular, and then in the one moment where he should have been conservative, he went for the ballsiest (yet stupid) play call of the year. If Belichick was a terrible coach, this would have been understandable. But being the legend that he is, it makes it even more ridiculous.
Once the Patriots got the lead, they stopped attacking the Colts' secondary, which Tom Brady had been shredding all night. Despite knowing that the Colts were capable of putting up points extremely quickly, Belichick and the Patriots treated them like the game was over, and the Colts couldn't come back. Obviously, they couldn't be further from the truth.
Even worse, Belichick's conservative play calling went out the window, the one time it would have been the most appropriate. On 4th and 2 at their own 28 yard line with 2:08 remaining in the game, Belichick elected to go for it, instead of punting to the Colts and giving Peyton Manning a longer field to work with.
The 4th down call was bad, but it wasn't even the worst part of it all for the Patriots. If Kevin Faulk hadn't bobbled the ball before reigning it in, perhaps they could have gotten the first down, and it would have been the perfect call. But the fact is that the Patriots had been playing far too conservatively throughout the entire 4th quarter.
Laurence Maroney's fumble on the 1-yard line, Tom Brady's interception in the end zone, the conservative play calling, the ultra-ballsy call on 4th down... all of these things contributed to a loss in what could have been a great statement game for the Patriots. Instead, they're walking away with one of the most heartbreaking regular season losses in recent history. Hopefully the team can shake it off and continue to prepare for the playoffs. With a win next week against the Jets, the division will be all but wrapped up. Just don't let this happen in the playoffs, they could be alright.
On that note, it's time to forget this game forever.