Monday, November 16, 2009


There’s something about second-guessing that is too easy. Sure, an entire industry – sports media – is founded on looking back and questioning the unsuccessful plays of the last game, but there are times where it’s just… just far too easy.

It’ll be known as The Call and if the New England Patriots somehow find themselves short of at least the third seed in the upcoming playoffs, every person who criticized head coach Bill Belichick will point to the infamous 4th-and-2 as the genesis of all that apparently went wrong.

You know full well that if Kevin Faulk made that catch for the first down, “the HC” would have been a genius, so the idea that there’s such debate and vitriol the day after is actually pretty comical. Probably funnier, if not sadder, is that the people who made Belichick a football demigod have the gall to actually ask if this ill-fated decision has an effect on his legacy (a featured poll in ESPN’s SportsNation).

Yet, enough fist-shaking at the fist shakers, here’s the absolute, fundamental core truth of not just The Call, but of every play in every sport; one’s success comes from another’s failure. An offense doesn’t just score strictly because a player made the right pass or another can smell the goal. A cornerback may have been a step behind; the power forward didn’t do enough to impede his opponent’s progress to the basket; the goalie made a terrible misplay of the header.

On the flip side, we’re conditioned to believe that scoring is everything in sports and that defense, while a nice-looking toy, is optional. The quarterback threw the ball late; the batter swung at a shoulder-high fastball (stupidly, of course); Chris Duhon decides he wants the last play of the first half.

We have to remind ourselves of this because while we will forever be told of how that 4th-and-2 decided this game, few will dare mention that if the Patriots imposed their will for the entire contest, that final 2:23 would have been played out in a completely different manner. If the Patriots’ defense – which was given 34 points from its offense – made their stops late, Tom Brady & company would have taken the victory formation to end the Colts’ undefeated stretch.

It may be a great topic for discussion for a while, but an excellent game as last night’s should serve as testimony to the fact that there has never been a game in the history of sports that was decided by just one play.

After all, The Catch (or The Catch II) didn’t just happen.

The Immaculate Reception didn’t just happen.

Heck, even The Goal That Really Wasn’t didn’t just happen.

Say What?!?!: Another thought to put this to bed: for those who believe that going for it was actually the right call, do you believe it was because of how much faith many instill in Bill Belichick? If this was a neophyte coach like Detroit’s Jim Schwartz or Kansas City’s Todd Haley, how would we receive the decision?
Photo Credit to AP via Yahoo! Sports

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