The New England Patriots’ late rally brought them within three points late in the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts. With only 2:21 left in the game after a Mac Jones touchdown pass to Hunter Henry, however, they needed to execute to perfection in order to give themselves another shot at winning the game.
The Patriots obviously did not, with Colts running back Jonathan Taylor scoring a 67-yard touchdown run to ice the game a short time later. While that play was a bad one, it is not the only example of New England’s struggles on Saturday night.
The team played some sloppy situational football, and one play in particular was pointed out by head coach Bill Belichick: the kickoff immediately following the Jones-Henry touchdown.
Nick Folk, the number two option behind kickoff specialist Jake Bailey, kicked the ball 54 yards to the Indianapolis 11. Return man Nyheim Hines ran the ball back 20 yards to the 31 as five seconds ticked off the clock. Belichick was not happy with the result and his team’s execution at such a critical point in the game.
“It was poorly executed on our part,” he said about the kickoff. “That wasn’t what we were looking for at all.
“Either you pin them back and play extra yards of field position, tackle them on the 20 and gain five yards of field position, we need a field goal, or you touchback it and keep the extra seconds on the clock. We did neither. We didn’t get the field position and we wasted five seconds, which, at the end of the game, is another play.”
The play was not the only special teams error made by the Patriots on Saturday. The unit also suffered its third blocked punt of the season, fumbled the football on a kickoff return (even though it rolled out of bounds), and was flagged to turn a missed Colts field goal attempt into a successful three points.
The badly executed kickoff was the final miscue, and while not as prominent as the others did still contribute to New England’s 27-17 loss. It was a perfect example of a team neither coaching nor playing its best against a playoff-caliber opponent.
“Like a lot of things in the game, it was bad coaching, bad playing, bad execution,” Belichick said. “Just not good enough.”