Belichick's gamble pays off for Patriots

Updated: November 4, 2003, 3:46 AM ET

DENVER -- With the Patriots facing fourth down from their 1-yard line and trailing Denver by a point, New England coach Bill Belichick told Lon?V Paxton to snap the ball out of the end zone.

What? An intentional safety? Yes, it was an unusual strategy. And it worked t O977???21?9612::2729:8:42::;"307?222b0X0726Brady hit David Givens on an 18-yard touchdown0ss with 30 seconds `That was the call of the game," Givens said.

That's an understatement. It might be the call of the NFL season.

Trailing 24-23 with 3:06 left, New England was pinned at the$ after Denver's Kelly?e?ndon hustled to down a punt. After three straight incompletions, the Patriots faced the daunting task of punting from the back of the endxone.

At best, Denver would get the ball back around midfield with a chance to kick a field goal and push the lead to four. At worst, thcision.

"I didn't think we'd get very much field position coming out of there. We had our timeouts left, so we went ahead?s: and took the safety," Belichick said. "We were hoping to get some field position there with the three timeouts and the 2-minute warningAo tie it."

They got more than that.

Paxton's snap hit the left upright and bwVaed back to the end zone for a safety that put Denver up 26-23. Denver figured to get good field position on the ensuing free kick, but Deltha O'Neal misjudged the New England us?Q~E\? .

"If we run the football, they would get the ball with two minutes and 20 seconds left in the game. That's a lot of time--???)0007420$322::249:;722:

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