Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has received his fair share of criticism for his decision to go for it on fourth and two, with just over two minutes to go, against the San Fransisco 49ers last night.
Yahoo!'s Jason Cole, went as far as to call if baffling - comparing it to the now infamous "4th and 2" from 2009 against the Colts:
It was the master and his talented subjects who blinked while the upstart passer from across the country played as if he had been here and done this so many times before.
Bill Belichick and the rest of the New England Patriots came up short despite a furious second-half comeback when the coach made a questionable decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 from New England's 12-yard line with 2:24 remaining . While some observers will say that New England was badly outplayed in an eventual 41-34 loss to the San Francisco 49ers and young quarterback Colin Kaepernick, this decision was one for the ages.
In Belichick's deeply considered world of football odds and situational study, you go on fourth-and-1 when you're down seven points in that scenario. He did that despite having two timeouts and the two-minute warning available to him. He did that despite having forced the 49ers to punt on four of their previous five possessions. He did that despite the fact that San Francisco punt returner Ted Ginn Jr. had turned two previous punts into high-wire acts with one near-fumble and one actual fumble.
Belichick did that despite the fact that not making it immediately put San Francisco in range for a field goal that gave the 49ers their an insurmountable 10-point margin. Finally, he did it despite the fact that failure virtually guarantees New England will have to go to Denver for the second round of the AFC playoffs, assuming the Patriots win in the first round.
In essence, this was Belichick doing something you might expect out of Barry Switzer or Jerry Glanville, guys who severely lack his poise, knowledge and success.
I'm not buying it - I backed the call then, and I'd back it now. Lets put it in simple terms. In order for the Patriots to stay alive, they would have either had to get that first down, or prevent the 49ers from getting one if they punted the football. Which situation would you rather trust:
1. The New England Patriots' red hot offense to pick up a yard and a half on a single play
2. The New England Patriots' defense, which had allowed well over 150 yards on the ground, to not allow a single 49ers first down.
I don't know about you, but I'd take the chance on the offense every time in that situation. Just because the Patriots ended up making the stop on the next series to hold the 49ers to a field goal, you also have to realize that the 49ers were ultra conservative in their playcalling because they knew a field goal would essentially preserve a win.
To compare this to the 4th and 2 from 2009 - I'm just not seeing it. A much more questionable call, in my mind, was Jim Harbaugh's fake punt on a fourth and 10 deeep in his own territory in the first half. Of course, since it worked out, you don't see many questioning it.
So what do you think? Did Bill Belichick make the right call to go for it?