Bill Belichick on The Big Show explains why he didn’t try to freeze Billy Cundiff
|01.23.12 at 5:09 pm ET|
Patriots coach Bill Belichick, in his weekly interview on The Big Show, suggested that he considered calling a timeout to freeze Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff but that he sensed that Baltimore was rushing its way into the kick. As such, he opted to allow Cundiff to kick under pressure rather than having time to set the play following a timeout.
The decision was validated when Cundiff hooked his 32-year field goal attempt wide left with seconds remaining, a miss that allowed the Patriots to seal a 23-20 victory in the AFC championship game that secured New England’s passage to the Super Bowl.
“We thought about [freezing Cundiff]. We talked about it. I thought they were a litte late making the substitution. I thought they sent it out a little bit late,” said Belichick. “It was fourth-and-2, something like that. I thought maybe they might have even lost track of the downs. It just seemed like it was a late substitution.
“It just seemed to me like they were rushing a little bit. I felt we were better off letting them go, letting them rush and handle it under pressure rather than give them a chance to settle down and get it all lined up properly. But we definitely thought about it.”
Still, Belichick had to wait to figure out that Cundiff’s kick had sailed wide.
“I really couldn’t tell whether the ball was good or not. Then I looked at the referee. He didn’t give any signal at all. He stood there for quite a while,” said Belichick. “Then I saw the fans cheering, and [someone] almost knocked me over. That’s when I realized the kick had missed. I was waiting on some kind of signal. ‘¦ Seemed like it took a little while.”
To listen to the interview, visit The Big Show audio on demand page. Some highlights from the interview are transcribed below:
On the win:
It was a great win yesterday for the players and the organization. Guys really did a good job of hanging in there. They fought hard and it worked out in the end.
On the game taking a different course than most expected:
It sure did. Being down -2 in the turnovers, that’s not good in playoff football. The odds of winning when you have that kind of turnover ratio are not good. Fortunately we were able to overcome it, but obviously it was close. … As always, a handful of big plays, key plays. A couple big fourth-down plays. That’s why it’s playoff football. It makes it exciting.
On Sterling Moore’s play to break up Lee Evans‘ near-touchdown catch:
We changed the call there, went into a double-coverage call. He made a great play on the ball. That’s kind of what we teach. Be aware of the receiver’s hands, and try to get your hands where his hands are. Boy, he just did it in the nick of time. That’s really a close play. Sterling’s got good ball skills. He’s always had a knack for being around the ball, coming up with the ball, making plays like that. That was a huge one.
On the game produced by Vince Wilfork:
He had a great game. Big force in the running game. I thought we played well up front all the way around. We needed to. No one guy can stop Ray Rice. ‘¦ [Wilfork] stepped up and played well. Probably one of his best games, and he’s had a lot of good ones now, but I’d say probably one of his best games was against the Ravens in ‘09 in the playoff game, even though the final result wasn’t good. Personally, it was a tremendous effort on his part. This one was kind of reminiscent.
On how the Patriots have amalgamated personnel to create a defense that is now playing its best football:
I think we’ve got a lot of good football players out there, some guys who have been with us all year and some guys that we’ve had to plug in. Players work hard. They communicate well, they spend extra time trying to study film, they watch film together and make sure that we’ve got right what we’re doing and communicate it. That’s hard work and repetition. That builds confidence and with confidence in practice comes an opportunity to perform well in games and I think they’ve done that.
On the significance of being back in the Super Bowl:
Like I said, our guys have worked hard. This has been six months, 105 practices, 22 games we’ve played. It’s all for this. That’s what we signed up for. That’s what we’re here for. We knew it was going to be a lot of work.
Every team that we play now is going to be better. We played Denver, Baltimore was better than Denver and the Giants are better than Baltimore. We’re in playoff football. Each time you win, you face a better team. That’s why they advance. We know this will be a great challenge for us, but that’s what we want to do. We want to meet the challenges and hopefully rise to the top.