Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY Sports 7: 01 g. m. EST November 25, 2013
“But I simply felt in that particular situation with the wind being as significant because it was that we just had to quit them from getting into the end zone. If we could do that, then we might have a significant advantage in the overtime period. We just had to make one stop and keep them out from the end zone. Even if they drove down and kicked a field goal. ”
This is how the weather affect strategy at this time of the year. And the teams that are able to adapt to the elements gain an undeniable edge. Since Belichick’s move illustrated, the changes go beyond leaning more on the hurrying attack and throwing shorter passes.
It also involves fundamental game-management, and in this area the Patriots have long had an benefit with the NFL’s most resourceful trainer.
Call it situational coaching. The wind chill factor has been 6 degrees at the opening kickoff, with 22-mph winds blowing from your north end of Gillette Arena — the open end that features the cool lighthouse.
By overtime, the winds had been still whipping at more than 20 mph.
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The way Belichick figured it, though, a team moving toward the north end from the Razor would have to drive to the 25-yard line, or perhaps the 20, to get involved with safe field goal range. Traveling in the opposite direction, backed by wind, meant getting inside the 45-yard line to have a legitimate shot on kicking the ball through the uprights.
“Now, getting it between them was more of a challenge due to the crosswind and everything else, ” Belichick said. “But at least to have a photo to make it, I felt like there was about a 20-yard difference to just attempt a field goal, let’s put it that way. Progressing to the 25 on one end, towards the 45 on the other. Basically, that’s what it looked like to me. ”
That’s smart strategy, specially when it works as it did in a 34-31 victory that was ultimately achieved by using a special-teams turnover that bounced off Broncos special teamer Tony a2z Carter.
Yet Belichick also might have felt like the blackjack player willing to take a hit upon 16. The flow was along with him. To get to overtime, the Patriots overcame a 24-0 halftime debt.
“To tell you the truth, the whole situation was a little bit complicated, ” Belichick said, recalling the sideline chat before the coin throw. “Because when I told the captains that, there was a little bit of a question associated with, ‘Are you talking about deferring? ‘
“No, we’re not really deferring. We’re taking the wind, period. ‘
“Well, is that if they take the ball? ‘
“They just wanted to make sure that they had the decision that we felt has been best, and we got it. It was not one of the normal ones. ”
When the captains went to midfield for the toss, they were so unsure that they confirmed what Belichick experienced told them among themselves.
“I think it’s natural instinct to look around and state, ‘Hey, we won the throw, do we want to take the ball? ‘” said linebacker Rob Ninkovich, among the captains. “Then we were kind of looking at each other like, ‘We want to stop the ball, right? ‘
“We were trying to tell each other, ‘Yeah, that’s what Costs said. ‘”
After the grueling victory, Belichick paid respect to his former boss, Costs Parcells, for planting the seeds to his decision more than a quarter-century ago when he served since defensive coordinator for the New York Giants.
In the NFC title sport in January 1987, the Giants won the opening toss plus Parcells took the wind — albeit with a monster defense within tow.
“We went ahead 17-0 and that was the last score of the game, ” Belichick recalled of the win against NFC East rival Washington.
“That was a big decision in the game. I learned a lot from that. I’m not saying that that’s constantly the right decision. Clearly each situation is different, but there’s a place for it. ”
Especially when functions.
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