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Should Devin McCourty just have let Fred Jackson score? It’s not that simple

09.26.11 at 8:19 pm ET
By

FOXBORO — The pivotal play of the game-winning drive by the Bills on Sunday proposes one of the most intriguing questions in all of football. How do you teach instinct?

When Fred Jackson got loose in the secondary at about the Patriots 25 after hauling in a simple dump pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick and was gaining a head of steam toward the Patriots goal line, there were those watching thinking out loud just let him score to give Tom Brady a chance to drive the team to a game-tying touchdown and force overtime.

Instead, cornerback Devin McCourty stepped in at the Patriots 3 and brought Jackson down. Originally ruled a touchdown, replay from the booth inside the two-minute warning clearly showed his right knee was down as the ball was at the 1-yard line, following a 38-yard gain.

Did McCourty – with the best of intentions – make the wrong decision on the play?

“[Jackson] was the outside guy, he came underneath [and] he caught the ball on a short pass,” Belichick said Monday. “We had two guys converging on him, he split us. Devin made a good play to run him down. We just didn’€™t play well enough, obviously.

In hindsight, is that a situation you go over where you want to let the player score?

“I think the way the play happened, that Devin did what he instinctively would do,” Belichick added. “I wouldn’€™t second-guess him on that.”

But that doesn’t mean you don’t teach.

The play was shown to McCourty, Kyle Arrington and the rest of the secondary in Monday’s film session.

“All of us can look at it and we can all learn from those types of situations,” Arrington said.

So what was learned on Monday in film class?

“I guess you let the guy score, therefore give our offense a chance to go down and score themselves,” Arrington conceded.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Buffalo Bills, Devin McCourty, Fred Jackson
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