FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots had a chance to tie Sunday night's game against the Seattle Seahawks with less than one minute remaining, having advanced the ball to the 2-yard line with 43 seconds left. Their strategy of how to handle that situation warrants further review.
"We were definitely trying to score, but I’d say managing the clock was part of it," coach Bill Belichick said.
What Belichick didn't want to do was give the ball back to the Seahawks with too much time left on the clock so they could potentially drive for a game-winning field goal.
"It was just some situational football. We were trying to get it very close but not in," quarterback Tom Brady explained.
So on first-and-goal from the 2, Brady kept the football and fell forward. with Seattle calling its final timeout to stop the clock with 37 seconds remaining.
Then with the ball at the 1, the Patriots attempted to score on a handoff to running back LeGarrette Blount, who had already scored three touchdowns in the game. With two tight ends, a sixth offensive lineman and a fullback in the game, Blount was stopped short of the goal-line and forced the Patriots to call a timeout with 19 seconds remaining.
Then on third-and-goal from the 1, with the team's power running package in the game, Brady tried to sneak it in but fumbled and pounced on the ball. A timeout was quickly called with 14 seconds remaining.
"That was just my fault on the ball handling," Brady relayed. "I was going left and [center] David [Andrews] thought I was going straight. It was just my mistake."
Belichick was asked if it was a designed quarterback run, or if that was something Brady checked to based on the defensive look.
"I’m not going to get into the specific calls. I mean, we’d be here all night talking about every play and 15 things that could’ve been different on each play," he answered. "We have different ways of calling plays."
That set up fourth-and-goal from the 1, with Brady failing to connect with tight end Rob Gronkowski on a fade to the left side of the end zone. Safety Kam Chancellor was in coverage, Gronkowski ran at him and there was some contact.
"I didn’t see it. I mean, there’s always a lot of contact with that team," Brady said. "Sometimes you get the call, sometimes you don’t. So certainly, it looks like it came down to one play, but there were a lot of plays in this game that we could have done a better job of. They’re a good team. We knew that going in, and we have to play better than the way we played. We were just too careless with the ball. They weren’t. The turnovers were a big factor. We had our chances. We just didn’t make enough plays."