Other than not converting on 4th & 2 and allowing Peyton Manning and the Colts to score from 28 yards out with 2 minutes left in the game, here's 5 other reasons why the New England Patriots lost last night that could have salvaged a win if successful.
Maroney Fumbling On The 1 Yard Line
Laurence Maroney was handed the ball four yards out and fumbled on the 1 yard line. Even if he hadn't scored on that play, even if he was just tackled on the 1, the clock would have continued running with 2:41 left in the third quarter. The Patriots could have scored on the following play or even kicked a field goal if they were unable to punch it in, giving them a larger lead.
Points Off Turnovers
In the fourth quarter, the Patriots intercepted Peyton Manning and took it back to the Colts 31 yard line with 7:44 left in the game. At the time, that Pats were up 31-21 and had control of the clock. The Patriots ran six plays (3 run, 3 pass) taking three and a half minutes off the clock and getting 3 points on a Gostkowski field goal of 36 yards, increasing their lead to 13 points. If the Pats were able to stay on the field and run more clock or even best case, punch it in for 6, the game would have ended differently.
Defense, Defense, Defense
Everyone in the NFL knows that Peyton Manning can and will make all the halftime adjustments that he needs to make and can come back from any amount of deficit. On any given possession at any given time in the 4th quarter, if the Patriots were able to make that one third down stop that they needed to make, they wouldn't have lost the trust of their coach to have their backs to the wall with a 6 point lead from 28 yards out.
I don't think that the time out called before the final offensive drive had anything to do with this loss. I don't feel that having that time out would have changed any of the decisions or the outcome of the game. I think the play calling and inability to run out the clock when they needed to gave Peyton Manning and the Colts too much time and too many chances to win this game.
As a die hard conspiracy theorist, did Bill Belichick lose on purpose to see everything he could see from the Colts in the two minute drill to prepare for the playoffs? Think long and hard about it before you come to a decision. We just saw everything the Colts will do at home, down by 17 with the chance to come back and win. How will we beat them when it counts? By game planning against everything they just did. Whether we won or lost, the Colts most likely will have home field advantage, so we know exactly what we'd have to go into in the AFC Championship game. I can't wait to see that game in January.
Thanks to jdn for the photo of Bill Belichick.