Coach Bill Belichick didn’t offer much of an explanation for a couple of his decisions in Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys.
The Patriots won the coin toss at the start of overtime and elected to receive the ball. Five plays later, they found themselves with fourth and 3 at their own 43-yard line. Belichick decided to punt the ball, paving the way for the Cowboys to charge down the field and score the winning touchdown.
So, did Belichick consider going for it on fourth down?
“Not really,” he said Monday morning during his weekly radio appearance on WEEI. “I mean, with [Greg] Zuerlein, his field goal range, they can play on a pretty short field there. So then you’re talking about one first down that could probably beat you there.”
What about the decision to kneel out the first half?
With 90 seconds remaining, the Patriots regained possession at their own 20-yard line after forcing a fumble in the end zone. New England had two timeouts but decided to run out the clock, with Mac Jones taking a knee on the final two plays.
So, why not try to go for a score?
“Because we were getting the ball at the start of the second half,” Belichick said after the game.
Asked again Monday morning, Belichick didn’t expound on his thoughts.
“Same answer I gave last night,” he said. “Nothing’s changed.”
When a reporter noted that the Patriots have capitalized on those types of “double-score” opportunities in the past, and asked why the team elected not to be more aggressive, Belichick still didn’t budge.
“We were going to get the ball in the second half,” he said. “We went back and wanted to get settled in on the second half at halftime. Same thing I said last night.”
Back on his feet
Jones is taking the strip-sack he sustained in the second quarter in stride.
“I think getting hit is always fun because it makes it more fun,” Jones said Monday during his weekly radio appearance on WEEI. “That’s part of the game. The best part is getting back up and knowing that you’re fine and you can just go out there and keep playing.”
Early in the second quarter, Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory blew past Patriots tackle Yodny Cajuste to pummel Jones and force a fumble.
“It’s OK to get hit a little bit and pop back up,” Jones said. “It just adds a little bit of competitive juices to the whole situation. At the end of the day, it’s part of the game. The best quarterbacks in the world, they all pop up quick and play the next play.”
Jones did exactly that. He immediately got up, ran to the bench, and did not miss a snap.
Still, New England’s pass protection has remained an issue all year. Cajuste was benched after giving up the strip-sack, and later in the game, tackle Justin Herron was pulled for his poor performance.
Chances are …
According to FiveThirtyEight, the Patriots, at 2-4, have a 21 percent chance of making the playoffs. Their next five opponents are the Jets, Chargers, Panthers, Browns, and Falcons. Per FiveThirtyEight’s projections, the Patriots will finish with a 7-10 record.
Nicole Yang can be reached at email@example.com.