Rarely can one find Bill Belichick and the word "mercy" in the same sentence.
Theoretically, we can't blame him for keeping his foot on the gas in essentially all situations—the NFL is a far cry from JV football.
You can't stop the Patriots?
Against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 11, however, Belichick's unabashed aggression actually got the best of him.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, who cited a team source, "Gronkowski was injured on the Patriots' final extra point with 3:55 remaining in the fourth quarter."
Never mind debating whether or not running up the score has a place at the professional ranks, or its explicit definition—by keeping Gronkowski on the field at that juncture of the game, Belichick has no one to blame but himself.
Every team has a set extra-point unit that is typically unchanged regardless of the score. But New England's best player not named Tom Brady shouldn't be on the field when the game is modestly out of reach, much less when it's 58-24 with under four minutes left in regulation.
Sure, no coach expects a player to get injured on a point after, but why take the risk?
Belichick coaches the same way all game—I get it.
At its foundation, it's hard to bash the basic concept.
But what baffles me is that if Belichick is so calculated when it comes to 4th-and-short situations and the effect of playing up-tempo, why is he so nonchalant about having important starters on the field when a game's outcome has already been decided?
The coaching ideology, at its root, is almost non-Belichickian, isn't it?
Gronkowski's injury in absolute garbage time was clearly a freak occurrence, but why was Wes Welker on the field catching passes over the middle on the final scoring drive with the score 52-24?
An injury to that integral offensive piece was actually much more plausible.
In all likelihood, Belichick will shake off Gronkowski's injury and state simply that injuries happen. And again, he'll be right.
But his unconcerned coaching style when it comes to meaningless game time—one that, to me, is meant to uphold the killer, we'll-score-until-you-stop-us macho mentality—this time, has hurt the Patriots in a major way.