Big decisions are made in every NFL contest. But the two that occurred in Week 10 will be talked about for a long time.
The first decision, by New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, came with 2 minutes 8 seconds to play in a game at Indianapolis. New England, leading 34-28, faced a fourth-and-2 from their own 28. But instead of punting and making the Colts drive a significant distance for the winning touchdown, the Patriots went for it.
Tom Brady threw a pass to Kevin Faulk, who was shoved back, falling just short of a first down.
“I thought we could have made that yard,” said Belichick, whose team had been 5-for-10 on fourth down conversion attempts before the call. “We tried to win the game on that play.”
The Colts took over on downs, and four plays later, Peyton Manning hit Reggie Wayne on a 2-yard scoring pass with 13 seconds left, giving Indianapolis a 35-34 win.
Belichick is one of the game’s top coaches, but he took the heat from critics, who said he didn’t trust his defense to stop Manning, who threw for 327 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions.
It was disappointing for Brady, who passed for 375 yards and three touchdowns. The Patriots led 31-14 early in the fourth quarter.
“It’s a bummer,” Brady said. “We have over 450 yards of offense at the time. We’ve got a lot of great players on our offense. They stopped us.”
The second surprise decision in Week 10 came from Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio. Trailing the New York Jets 22-21 with 1:45 to play, Maurice Jones-Drew was running for a touchdown when he stopped at the 1-yard line and took a knee to take time off the clock.
That set up a 21-yard field goal by Josh Scobee as time ran expired, giving the Jaguars a 24-22 win.
“Sorry to my fantasy owners,” Jones-Drew said. “They told me to get as close as I can and take a knee.”
Why not just score a sure TD instead of risking something going wrong on a field goal attempt?
“I don’t want to give them a chance to return the kick, hit a fluke play or anything like that,” Del Rio said.
The Jaguars gambled that everything would go according to plan. It did, this time.
- First to 1,000: Tennessee running back Chris Johnson was the first running back to gain 1,000 yards this season. In his first nine games, Johnson had five 100-plus rushing games and an NFL-leading 6.4 yards per carry.
- More Than a Side Dish: In the first nine games, Minnesota wide receiver Sidney Rice had 786 receiving yards, fourth in the league.
- Most Outrageous Owner: Titans owner Bud Adams, who gave Buffalo fans and the Bills sideline a double, middle-finger salute while celebrating Tennessee’s win on Nov. 15. Adams was fined $250,000 by the NFL for his obscene gestures.
Did You Know?
The Cleveland Browns scored only five offensive touchdowns in 15 games from Nov. 23, 2008 through Week 10 of this season. Those TDs came this season.
The Patriots aren’t the only team to go for it on fourth down. Here are the five best, and five worst teams on fourth-down conversion attempts through Week 10:
- Best 4th-down conversion rate (minimum 10 attempts):
Jets, 10-13, 76.9 percent
Bengals, 8-12, 66.7 percent
Chiefs, 12-19, 63.2 percent
Raiders, 5-10, 50.0 percent
Buccaneers, 7-14, 50.0 percent
- Worst 4th-down conversion rate (minimum 10 attempts):
Rams, 4-13, 30.8 percent
Lions, 4-12, 33.3 percent
Bears, 4-11, 36.4 percent
Eagles, 4-10, 40.0 percent
Bills, 4-10, 40.0 percent
“If I put all my time and commitment into it, if I dedicated myself to the game of football, I could be really good.”
-NBA star LeBron James, on whether he could play in the NFL. (James was an All-State wide receiver in high school.)
Miami running back Ronnie Brown is out for the season after being placed on injured reserve last week with a broken right foot. Brown’s injury occurred in a Week 10 game against Tampa Bay. At the time, the Dolphins ranked fourth in NFL rushing behind Brown’s 648 yards. Brown, who took the snaps in Miami’s successful wildcat offense, has eight rushing touchdowns this season. He ran for 916 yards and 10 TDs last season. Ricky Williams, the league’s rushing champion in 2002, will replace Brown as the starter…Going into Week 11, San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson had passed Franco Harris for 12th-place on the NFL’s all-time rushing list with 12,145 yards, and his 146 touchdowns eclipsed Marcus Allen for third all-time.
Copyright (c) 2009 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.