The decision was highly controversial, and in the end, it created a stir like nothing in recent time about a coach's decision in a key game like the one played that Sunday night in Indianapolis. It was billed as "The Game Of The Decade."
Belichick has been rolled over the coals because the Pats failed to make the necessary two yards for the first down. At least that is according to what the on-field officials determined as they handed the ball, and eventual victory, over to the Colts.
Truth be told, as you watch the video linked below, the Patriots did in fact make the first down. The video will prove it.
At the end of the play the scoreboard clock read 1:57. For some unknown reason, the on-field officials had the clock reset to 2:00. As we know, the decision whether to look at a play rests with the NFL officials in the booth for the final two minutes of the first half and the fourth quarter.
Here is the link to the video. Watch it, slow it down, stop and start it, and you will see the truth that the Patriots did in fact make the first down.
The video clearly shows the following:
Faulk did, in fact, bobble the ball, slightly as was suggested. The bobble happened when he had his left foot down, short of the first down.
The video then goes on to show that he gained full possession at a time when his right foot was on the ground, well past the first down marker. It was then that he was pushed back by the Colts defender.
The fact that the official did not give him the forward progress vexed me, but not as much as what did NOT happen after that. That would be the review by the booth officials where the clock was reset from 1:57 to 2:00. The way the replay rule reads, it says that the booth officials have the option of having an official review in the last two minutes. That, to me, would include from when the clock reads 2:00 on down to 0.00
This was considered to be a key game. In fact, it was being billed as the game of the decade in some quarters.
That being so, the officials both on the field and in the booth should have done anything and everything to ensure that the final outcome was not determined by an incorrect call.
Even if they determined after looking at it that it was not a first down, I for one would at least felt that they did what they could. However, by not even looking at it smells to high heaven and leaves a very bitter taste.
All that I can determine is that the booth officials decided not to look at it for fear that they would have to overrule the on-field decision, and that they did not want to do that in Indy against the Colts.
Thus, they took the coward's way out.
This is yet one more example of the "Curse of the Tuck."
I believe that NFL officials are honest, and that for the most part, do the best job possible under difficult situations.
They are, however, human and human beings have a psyche. I believe that ever since that night in Foxboro when the "Tuck Rule" was legitimately used, NFL officials doing Patriot games have a psychological problem without them even realizing it. This is that in the latter stages of games, when they have the opportunity of making a decision that might aid the Patriots, they don't do it. They just allow a non-call to happen.
They psychologically have a mental block that wont let them reverse a call that would give the Patriots a late opportunity to salvage a game for fear that it would look like, once again, they were in the Patriots pockets.
So, what they do without even knowing that they are doing it, they take the coward's way out.