Kill Bill?: The Fourth and Two Wasn't What Cost the Patriots

Patrick HanlonContributor INovember 17, 2009

16 Dec 2001:  Head Coach Bill Belicheck of the New England Patriots checks the scoreboard during their game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. The New England Patriots won the game 12-9 in overtime. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart/Allsport
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The Patriots should've won that game. They out gained the Colts by 70 yards. They controlled the ball for 10 minutes longer than the Colts.

They forced Manning and his vaunted offense to punt six times in the first half, and led by 17 with 14 minutes left in the game.

What do they have to show for it? A one point loss that everyone is talking about.

There are plenty of people who will say this is just a regular season loss, so it doesn't mean that much. But like Ron Burgundy, it's kind of a big deal.
The way the last two minutes panned out makes this game a huge deal. I don't have a problem with the 4th and 2 call that cost the Patriots the game. It's the mismanagement of the team on the infamous drive that aggravates me.

Many sports pundits have an issue with Belichick going for it on 4th and 2. Believe it or not, the math slightly supports Bellicheck's decision.
More importantly, the Patriots had a 75% success rate against the Colts on 4th downs since 2000, including 4-4 in the playoffs. The numbers were there, including the most overlooked number: 12. If the game is weighing in the balance, I want it in Tom Brady's hands every time.

The problem with the decision lies in the execution. Before even taking a snap, the Patriots called a timeout, leaving them one left. Call me crazy, but you just spent the last few minutes on the sideline.
After the Colts scored there was even a TV timeout, so the Pats had plenty of time to decide what play to run on first down. Nonetheless, they retreated back to the sideline to get the play.
Next, might be the most frustrating as a Patriots fan. After a failed 3rd and 2, members of the offense started running off the field, and the punt team came running on.
According to Belichick, the Patriots coaching staff made the decision before third down that if they didn't convert, they would go for it on 4th down. Which brings up two questions:

1. Why not run the ball on third, and make the Colts use their last timeout? You might be a yard closer and if you convert, you can run almost all of the clock out.

2. Why was punt team coming onto the field? The faux pas cost the Patriots another time out, one that might have changed the spot of the ball on the 4th-and-2 play.

Maybe if you're a fan of the Lions, Browns, or Redskins, you've become accustomed to blunders like this. But as a Patriot fan during this decade, you just don't expect to see this from the guy in the hoodie.
This season, I've noticed Belichick has wasted timeouts more than usual, but it didn't hurt the team. Here it certainly did.
From bringing in Corey Dillon, to an intentional safety in Denver , every controversial decision has seemed to work for Belichick.
Patriots fans utter, "In Bill We Trust," because his on the field and off the field moves have been flawless. The decision against the Colts has changed all that.
Now people either think Belichick is a progressive genius who was playing the numbers, or a pompous jerk whose big ego is killing his team. For me, it's wasted timeouts and lack of communication that has shown Bill Belichick is human.