At some point in the next seven months, there might be one or two New Englanders wondering out loud why the Patriots didn’t kick a field goal in the fourth quarter of the AFC championship game.
OK, it might be one or two million Patriots fans second-guessing Bill Belichick.
The @Patriots 3 red zone possessions final 7 minutes. Only 6 points. Failure to take easy FG on first of those 3 killed them.
— Kerry J. Byrne (@footballfacts) January 25, 2016
The Patriots coach, however, said Monday he has no regrets going for it on fourth down twice instead of attempting field goals, according to NFL.com.
Trailing 20-12, the Patriots faced a fourth-and-1 from the Broncos’ 16-yard line with just over six minutes left. Instead of attempting a field goal, the Patriots went for it and Julian Edelman lost a yard on a screen pass from Tom Brady.
The Patriots defense held the Broncos to a three-and-out and it was decision time again for the Patriots with 2:25 left. On fourth-and-6 from the Broncos 14 Brady threw an incomplete pass to a triple-covered Rob Gronkowski in the end zone.
The Patriots got the ball back yet again at the 50-yard line, and this time Brady threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Gronkowski with 17 seconds left. But Aqib Talib tipped the two-point conversion attempt and Bradley Roby plucked it out of the air and the Broncos won 20-18.
Had the Patriots kicked two field goals instead of turning the ball over on downs, they’d have only needed a field goal to win on their final drive and Peyton Manning might be mulling retirement right now.
The Patriots can’t be blamed for going for the touchdown with 2:25 left because there’s no guarantee they’d get the ball back. The decision to go for it with six minutes left is a head-scratcher, however.
To a certain extent, Belichick will know how Pete Carroll felt during the 2015 offseason.