Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Belichick Patriots Problems Surface

Bill Belichick refused to blame his Pro Bowl kicker, Stephen Gostkowski, after a missed extra-point contributed towards the New England Patriots’ defeat in the AFC championship game.

Gostkowski’s miss in the second quarter meant the Patriots had to go for a two-point conversion as they attempted to tie the game against the Denver Broncos. The attempt failed and New England’s season ended with a 20-18 defeat. Gostkowski said he blamed himself for the loss but at his end of season press conference on Monday, Belichick said the defeat was a team responsibility.

“Steve is a great kicker. He had a great year for us,” Belichick said. “I think every coach or player who participated in the game wishes there was a couple things they could have done differently. I feel that way. Everybody I’ve talked to feels that way. I can’t imagine that anyone who participated in the game doesn’t feel that way. I feel like it’s my fault, I’m sure all the other players who played feel like it’s their fault.”

Belichick was one of the coaches who pushed to move the extra-point back to 33 yards, a rule that was introduced at the start of this season. But on Monday he would not be drawn into a discussion on the change. “Whatever the rules are, we play by them. We don’t make the rules. That’s decided by the league,” Belichick said.

The Patriots also received criticism when they decided to go for it on a fourth and one in the final quarter, when they trailed 20-12 and were well within field-goal range. Again, Belichick refused to rue the decision: “At that time, there was no hesitation in doing that,” Belichick said. He explained “time, and number of possessions you have left” played a part in his thinking.

Tom Brady was pressured all day, taking 23 hits from the Broncos. But like Belichick we he took the defeat as a team. “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 said. “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.”

Belichick was also hampered when the Patriots’ Microsoft Surface tablets went offline for 20 minutes, leaving his staff at a disadvantage. The outage did not affect the Broncos. Meanwhile, some fans wondered whether the Pats were victims of double standards.

“Our team on the field confirmed the issue was not related to the tablets themselves but rather an issue with the network, said Microsoft in a statement. “We worked with our partners who manage the network to ensure the issue was resolved quickly.”

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