The New England Patriots played a near-perfect game in Saturday's 45-10 divisional-round win over the Denver Broncos. But what was up with quarterback Tom Brady's punt on third-and-10 late in the fourth quarter?
Up 35 points, the Patriots kept their starting offense in the game and had some success moving the ball. But New England lined up in a shotgun formation and Brady surprised everyone by punting the ball 48 yards to Denver's 10-yard line.
It came off as New England showing up the Broncos by doing something zany instead of simply running out the clock. The Patriots were practicing something very rare at Denver's expense in a nationally televised postseason game.
"It's funny, that’s the kind of play you work on forever and you never know when it's going to come," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "Actually, we talked about doing it when we were backed up there on the 2-yard line."
Brady backed his head coach and didn't mind the call.
"We've been practicing it for seven years; a situation came up," Brady explained. "I was trying to get it inside the 5 but I needed a penalty to do that. I was happy about the call."
A skirmish ensued after Brady's punt when Broncos linebacker Von Miller lost his cool and delivered a late hit. Pride set in as Denver's defense was getting embarrassed. This quick kick by Brady certainly didn't help matters.
Belichick is always thinking about situational football, but punting on third down near midfield seemed unnecessary. Next time the Patriots should leave these things for the preseason, not the postseason.