Monday, December 28, 2015

Inside the Patriots Controversial Coin Toss in OT

During halftime of the the Sunday night shellacking of the New York Giants, Bob Costas decided to go on a rant about overtime rules in light of the Patriots 26-20 loss to the New York Jets earlier in the afternoon.

Costas sounded like a jilted Boston fan by demanding that the NFL change the rules of overtime because it was not "fair" that the Patriots never got a chance to possess the football. Costas' reasoning being that if the Super Bowl were determined by a coin flip that it would be unjust.

While I agree that a Super Bowl determined by essentially a "coin flip" would leave a sour taste, the overtime rule now is better than it used to be. Does it make it perfect? No. But it's better. The old rule didn't require teams to drive the length of the field to score a touchdown. Teams essentially could drive to their opponents 40 yard line and kick the game winner, in other words, the winner would be determined on the flip of a coin.

The current rule forces teams to drive the entire length of the field and earn the win with a touchdown. It is up to the defense to do their job and stop the opponent. If the defense succeeds, their offense will get the football with a chance to win the game any which way they can with either a touchdown, or field goal.

To say that the Patriots got cheated by not touching the football in overtime against the Jets is purely sour grapes. Bill Belichick played the momentum game, and was in his right to do so. In the third quarter after the Patriots recovered a Ryan Fitzpatrick fumble and brought it back for a touchdown, the momentum of the game totally changed. The Jets final four possessions ended in a field goal and three punts. In fact the Jets had only 12 plays and 38 yards in the final three drives of regulation. If Belichick isn't lying about the decision, in order to take heat off his own player, then he clearly felt he could stop the Jets once more. He had the evidence.

Belichick knew what he was doing. His logic: If the Patriots don't sore a touchdown in overtime they risked having the Jets get the football back. Why not play defense, force the Jets to go three and out and get the ball back with a chance to win it. While this logic is horrifically flawed, it is logic that had it worked, we'd be praising Belichick as a genius on Monday.

I will be honest, the Patriots screwed this up. They should have taken the football and let Tom Brady win the game by himself with a touchdown. But had that happened would the overtime rules be less fair had the Patriots scored a touchdown to start overtime with the Jets never touching to football? My guess is Costas wouldn't be complaining had the result been Patriots 26, Jets 20.

Twitter reacts to Costas on OT and Pats.
The rules are the rules. The Jets took advantage of a horrific mistake by the Patriots, shoved it down their throat and won the football game with a heroic 80-yard drive that included a 48-yard catch and run by a rising superstar in Quincy Enunwa. All the Patriots had to do was tackle Enunwa on second and eight, on a play that started out as a screen. The Jets probably would have punted, and voila, Brady gets the football.

I find it truly disturbing that some people feel that a franchise like the Patriots, who got so many breaks over the past 15 years should have a rule changed in their honor because they made a simple mistake. There is no controversy here. This is not a "Tuck Rule" situation like we saw in 2001 with the Patriots and Raiders in the playoffs. This is not the Phil Luckett game in 1998 on Thanksgiving when Luckett misheard what Steelers running back Jerome Bettis told him on the coin toss, awarding the ball instead to the Lions.

This was instead a coach who felt he could outsmart the Jets and instead outsmarted himself. There is no room for an unnecessary rule change based on Bill Belichick getting caught with his proverbial coaching pants down.

What Costas and Patriots need to do is very simple. The Jets won, get over it.

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