Patriots: Why did Bill Belichick settle for overtime vs Cowboys?
By Jerry Trotta
The New England Patriots were in the driver’s seat for most of their highly-hyped clash against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
The game had a bunch of momentum-shifting plays in the fourth quarter, though none of those seemed more significant than when Greg Zuerlein missed a 51-yard field goal with 2:42 left after the Cowboys opted not to go for a 4th & 1.
On the ensuing drive, Trevon Diggs extended his interception streak and took a deflected pass 42 yards to the house.
Because this game had everything, the Patriots responded with a 75-yard TD two plays later to take a 29-26 lead.
In fitting fashion, Dak Prescott willed the Cowboys into FG range and Zuerlein redeemed himself with a 49-yarder to level things up with 20 seconds left.
That brings us to our topic of conversation. Why did Bill Belichick settle for overtime instead of trying to get into field goal range?
Why did Patriots head coach Bill Belichick not try for a field goal at the end of regulation?
The only defense you can make for Belichick is that the Patriots were only working with one timeout. Mac Jones burned the team’s second early in the fourth quarter to avoid what would’ve been a killer delay of game penalty.
After Zuerlein’s game-tying FG, the Patriots lined up in shotgun formation, leading folks to believe that they were going to go for the win. However, they took the conservative route by running a draw to Damien Harris.
As Tony Romo put it on the CBS broadcast, teams typically call a draw in that situation to see if they break a big run. If they do, they’d obviously go for the win. If they don’t, they usually play it safe by running or taking a knee.
That’s where this decision doesn’t sit right. Why run the risk of giving Prescott and Dallas’ offense the ball with a chance to win the game?
Though the Patriots won the coin toss in overtime, the outcome was pretty much determined after they went three and out on the first possession. The rest, as they say, is history. After a series of completions, Prescott found CeeDee Lamb for the walk-off 35-yard touchdown.
Remind us again, why did Belichick not trust Jones to travel 50 yards in 20 seconds with one timeout at his disposal? Just two minutes earlier, the rookie had connected with Kendrick Bourne for 75 yards thanks to a blown coverage. Why not put the Cowboys’ suspect secondary on their heels and force them to make a play?
The decision was begging to blow up in Belichick’s face. He lucked out by winning the coin toss, and it STILL came back to bite him.
There were obviously a number of other factors that contributed to the loss, but Belichick settling for overtime less than three minutes after his rookie quarterback came up in a big spot looms large given how OT played out.