FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount caught an 11-yard touchdown pass with 12:56 remaining in the fourth quarter Sunday night, Patriots coach Bill Belichick had a decision to make.
Would he attempt an extra point to give the Patriots a 34-21 lead over the Indianapolis Colts? Or would he go for the two-point conversion in hopes of making it 35-21?
Belichick chose option No. 1, but if the situation comes up in the future, he might consider going in the other direction.
"There was strong consideration given to going for two there," Belichick acknowledged Monday in his weekly day-after-game conference call, "and as it turned out that would have been the right thing to do to go for two. "
But that doesn't necessarily mean Belichick was wrong at the time.
As he explained Monday, the time remaining in the game (12:48) was a primary factor in kicking the extra point instead. Essentially, Belichick figured there would be more points scored in the game (he wasn't banking on his offense producing three straight three-and-outs) and thus the traditional chart that coaches sometimes use when determining whether to go for two was passed over.
"At that point, if you had told me that those were going to be the final points scored in the game until a minute to go; it just didn’t look like that’s the way the game was going at that point. But as it turned out, whether you’re up by 12 or you’re up by 13 with less than two minutes to go in the game, it doesn’t really make any difference. You’d be better off to be up by 14 than up by 13 or 12 for that matter," he said. "That’s why I’m saying the closer you get to the end of the game, the more you can rely on the chart."
As a contrasting example, Belichick pointed to Sunday's Denver-Cleveland game when Cleveland went ahead 20-16 with 8:07 left.
After their touchdown, the Browns went for the two-point conversion but were denied.
"It was a good example when Cleveland went for two to make it 22-16 and they got stopped. So now it was 20-16," Belichick said.
"Then Denver scored and it’s 23-20 instead of 23-21. Now you’ve got the field goal to tie instead of the field goal to win.
"Without [Denver's] touchdown, a six-point lead and a four-point lead is the same thing. But then as soon as Denver hit that long pass, now the whole chart changes again and you’re on the wrong side of it."
Belichick seemed to embrace the topic Monday because it's part of the situational football he often preaches with his team.
He summed up his thoughts on going for the two-point conversion this way: "The less time there is, I think the more you go with the chart. If you have that same score differential in the first quarter, a lot of times you just take the higher probability of an extra point and play the game out. If that is going to be the last score until the final minute of the game, then you’re better off following the chart. But again, if you have a play you really like and you feel confident about the play, there is really no reason not to run that play. If you feel 95 percent about that play, then you could run that any time because it’s always good to get two points."