Patriots Lose On Officials' Bad 4th-And-2 Call, Not Belichick's

Dave Finocchio@@DaveFinocchioSenior Writer INovember 16, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 15:  Reggie Wayne #87 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates his touchdown with teammates and fans in the fourth quarter of the game against the New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 15, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Looking at NBC's replays of the decisive 4th and 2 call in the Colts 35-34 victory over New England in Indianapolis, it was clear that Kevin Faulk did indeed have possession of the ball in front of the first down marker. Faulk's completion would have sealed a win for the Patriots.

While Faulk did bobble the football initially, he quickly recovered to firmly wrap two hands around the ball prior to his forward progress being stopped by the Colts defender, which was slightly ahead of NBC's yellow first down line. 

The replay also showed that the official who made the call had an awful vantage point, and saw more of Faulk's back than so-called bobbled football. It's disapointing that both Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, who is usually an outstanding analyst, failed to point this out.

It's certainly fair to criticize Belichick's game management in the second half. The Patriots used three timeouts rather nonchalantly, which left them void of the ability to challenge the ruling on the field. And because the soon-to-be infamous play started with 2:03 on the clock, and reviews cannot get called by the booth until the two minute warning, the Patiots were left to the whims of one eager-to-please referee.

Say what you will about the message that it sends to his defense, but it still took a lot of guts for Bill Belichick to go for the win on 4th and 2 on national television. If you run the numbers, and sum the odds that Tom Brady either converts in the 4 and 2 situation or the Patriots defense keeps the Colts out of the end-zone from their own 30 yard line, I bet the percent chance that the Pats win the game is higher than the odds of the Pats winning if the Colts get the ball at their own 30 with 2 minutes left and a timeout. I'd love to know if the Patriots keep stats on such situations.

It was a highly unconventional call, but if the officials had been on their game, it would've been the right one. Kudos to Belichick for having guts, and making the right call.