NFL

Arrogance Comes Back to Bite The New England Patriots

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The Super Bowl matchup is officially set, however, we’re missing one familiar organization from the east coast.

You know, that team who’s been in America’s most popular game six times over the past 15 years.

Of course I’m talking about none other than the New England Patriots.

After winning their fourth Super Bowl a season ago, the Patriots looked well on their way to a fifth one early on.

New England came out of the gates with a 10-0 record, but injuries started to become a factor, which is why they finished the season 2-4.

Ironically, their first loss and last loss were both in the ‘Mile High City’.

The only difference was New England’s last loss was to Peyton Manning instead of Brock Osweiler.

For as great as a tandem Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are, sometimes their overwhelming success clouds their judgment in key situations.

Now, this isn’t to say every arrogant decision has backfired, but it’s just the fact that it has before, as it did this past Sunday.

Before the season, only two NFL owners voted against pushing the extra point back to a 32-yard kick.

The irony comes into play for Belichick because he was one of the ring leaders behind making the extra point a more difficult kick and guess what?

In the first quarter of the AFC Championship Game, kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed an extra point, forcing the Pats to go for two near the end of the game just to get to overtime, which didn’t end up well.

This was Gostkowski’s first missed extra point in ten years. 

“I personally would love to see the kicking game remain as a very integral part of the game so that the kickoffs are returned and so that extra points are not over 99% converted because that’s not what extra points were when they were initially put into the game back 80 years ago, whatever it was,” Belichick stressed two years ago.

As Belichick sits at home looking back on how the season ended, I wonder does he regret wanting to push the extra point back now, considering it may have cost his team a chance at a fifth Super Bowl ring.

While the missed extra point was crucial, Belichick could’ve still had his squad in a better position in the weighing moments.

In the fourth quarter, Belichick elected to go for it on fourth down on back-to-back possessions versus chopping away at the lead by kicking field goals.

Hindsight is obviously 20-20 here, but if New England were to take the three on just one of those occasions, their touchdown on the final drive would’ve been enough to win the game instead of having to go for two, which ended up failing.

As the loss has sunk in, Belichick reflected on the first gamble in the fourth.

“Time and the number of possessions that you have left and what we needed to do — the number of opportunities we would have to do that,” Belichick stated on Monday. “There weren’t very many … at the time, yeah, there was no hesitation in doing that.”

The four-time Super Bowl winning coach then spoke on the second attempt on fourth down.

“There were two-and-a-half minutes to go in the game, down by eight, fourth-and-5 (fourth-and-6) or whatever it was,” Belichick said. “Yeah, we felt like the best thing to do was to go for it at that point, yeah.”

Also, throughout the game, Brady was under constant pressure from Denver’s front seven, but New England refused to max protect because they’re so stuck in their ways.

“When you play quarterback, you’re going to take hits. You have to stand in there and make throws. There are no excuses for me for not getting the job done,” Brady stressed. “Our guys fought hard. I’m proud of all the guys for what they tried to accomplish. We just came up one play short to a very good football team.”

Maybe at some point, Belichick and his staff should’ve sacrificed a receiver or two to make sure Brady could stand upright in the pocket, but what do I know?

Even if you date back to the Patriots regular season finale against Miami, you’ll notice their arrogance on full display once again, as they went for it on fourth down three times.

New England lost that game 20-10.

As the Patriots prep for the 2016 season, they need to seriously look in the mirror and get their ego in check if they want to win another Super Bowl.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.