Bill Belichick is considered one of the greatest coaches in sports history, but you wouldn’t know it based on Sunday. After the New England Patriots battled back to force overtime against the New York Jets, Belichick elected to kick off to New York to begin overtime – despite winning the coin toss.
The Jets promptly marched 80 yards in five plays to win, 26-20.
So, did Belichick know something we didn’t, or was that just a stupid call?
“It was dumb, stupid, buffoonery – you name it, anything you want to call it, it was just a bad, bad decision,” CBS Sports Network analyst and senior NFL columnist Pete Prisco told Damon Amendolara, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “There’s no justification for doing what he did. He could talk all he wants about he wanted to kick the ball (and how) he wasn’t sure what the Jets would do. Look, you have Tom Brady. I don’t care what you’ve done up until that point on offense. You have Tom Brady. You get the football. The only way that the Jets would beat you is if they went down and scored, and they did. Well, you go down and score and you win. It was a terrible decision and an insult to his quarterback. And he – like he’s done at other times in his career – blew the situational coaching in that instance.”
The Patriots fell to 12-3 with the loss, which may cost them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Even if it doesn’t, the Pats have lost three of their last five games, with the only wins coming against Houston and Tennessee.
Are the Pats not as invincible as we thought they were? Can pretty much anyone in the AFC playoffs go to Foxboro and win?
“The only thing that would hold me back from saying that is take a look at the other quarterbacks who could be in the AFC playoffs,” Prisco said. “Right now, if the playoffs started today, it would be AJ McCarron, Brock Osweiler, Alex Smith, whatever happens in Houston – who knows who’s healthy there? – and it’ll be Ryan Fitzpatrick, who’s actually played pretty well for the Jets. But that’s not exactly a murderers’ row of quarterbacks. So normally I would sit there and say, ‘Yes, they’re beatable.’ But who’s going to beat them? That’s the question.”
Many thought that the Steelers posed the biggest challenge to the Patriots, but Pittsburgh lost 20-17 in Baltimore on Sunday – a loss that Prisco called “terrible.” The Steelers had scored 30+ points in their previous six games but couldn’t get anything going against the Ravens.
“Over the last couple weeks, all anybody’s been talking about is that nobody wants to play the Steelers,” Prisco said. “Well, you might not get your chance to play the Steelers because they’re not going to get in unless they get some help from Buffalo.”
Yes, not only do the Steelers (9-5) need to beat the Browns (3-12) in Cleveland, but they also need the Bills (7-8) to beat the Jets (10-5) in Buffalo.
Most AFC playoff teams will likely be Browns and Jets fans Sunday. Why? because nobody wants to face the Steelers.
“Look, they can score,” Prisco said. “That’s the thing. That’s why they’re always dangerous. When you have a quarterback like Roethlisberger, you’re always going to be dangerous and that’s why nobody wanted to play them. But look, if you asked me right now if you would rather face the Jets as is or the Steelers as they are, I’d still rather play the Jets, to be honest with you.”