Bill Belichick takes a chance to start overtime and it pays off
|11.25.13 at 3:30 am ET|
FOXBORO — More than a few onlookers were scratching their heads when Bill Belichick won the coin toss to start overtime and actually chose to give the ball to the most potent offense in football.
Now, this is certainly no surprise to start a game as Belichick has often chosen to defer to the second half to start a game. But when you’re talking about giving it to Peyton Manning when a touchdown would end the game, it’s a gamble.
But it was a calculated gamble that paid off when Wes Welker couldn’t read the wind late in overtime and didn’t catch a punt. Instead, he allowed up-man Tony Carter to touch the ball after it hit the ground. That set up Stephen Gostkowski’s 31-yard game-winner with 1:56 left in overtime, giving the Patriots an unbelievable 34-31 win.
All of that wouldn’t have been possible if the Patriots defense didn’t come up big and stop Manning on the first drive. But after the Broncos reached the Patriots 45, they self-destructed and moved backwards on an Eric Decker pass interference call.
The Broncos were forced to punt. Chalk one up to Belichick. His decision to take the wind, howling out of the north all game long at 25 MPH on a brutally cold night, went from unorthodox to uncanny.
“The wind, it was a strong wind,” Belichick said. “We just had to keep the out of the end zone, obviously. I just felt like the wind would be an advantage if we could keep them out of the end zone on that first drive. We were able to do that. The wind was significant in the game, it was definitely significant.”
Was Peyton Manning surprised Belichick gave him the ball to start overtime?
“No. That’s what they do sometimes,” Manning said.
Rob Gronkowski was happy with the decision.
‘Great decision,” Gronkowski beamed. “He is our coach [and] we’re behind him with everything, especially Coach Belichick. Whatever he has, we’re behind him. So it was a great call because we won.”