Who would have thought that the storyline from Patriots-Jets at Metlife Stadium would be an overtime coin toss?
Deflated footballs, Pittsburgh’s broken headsets, and now an overtime coin toss are all in the bin of non-game related issues that the Patriots have been criticized for by the media and fans of other NFL teams. Clearly, the only way to beat this injury-riddled Patriots team is by finding ways around Belichick’s seamless playbook.
An uneventful first half ended with the Jets up 10-3 and the Patriots down yet another lineman as left tackle Sebastian Vollmer went out early in the first quarter with a leg injury and did not return.
In the second half the Jets picked up right where they left off as miscommunication between Brady and Rob Gronkowski resulted in an interception by former Patriot Darrelle Revis. Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets offense then turned the interception into a 33-yard touchdown catch for Brandon Marshall and a commanding 17-3 lead. Marshall, who is having his best season to date, finished the day with eight receptions, 115 yards, and two touchdowns to put his season total to a career-high thirteen touchdown receptions.
The momentum changed for the Patriots with 3:31 left in the third quarter when Jabaal Sheard’s hit on Fitzpatrick forced the quarterback to fumble. The fumble was then picked up by Jamie Collins and returned for a Patriots touchdown. Sheard and Collins have both played critical roles on the Patriots defense as the New England continues to deal with mounting injuries.
Late in the fourth quarter, Tom Brady and the Patriots offense constructed a game-tying, 66-yard scoring drive capped by a James White touchdown catch right at the two minute warning. The Patriots forced a Jets punt and Brady took a kneel with just under 30 seconds to send the game to overtime.
And then this happened…
Belichick instructed special teams captain Matthew Slater to choose to kickoff if they won the coin toss. New England won the toss (as they frequently do) and elected to kick (as they also frequently do). Slater’s confusion came when referee Clete Blakeman asked Antonio Cromartie which direction the Jets wanted to defend. Slater thought that would be New England’s choice, but Slater really should’ve elected which end zone to defend instead of saying to kickoff.
Belichick and Slater elected to give the ball to the Jets because they thought it was more important to defend a certain end zone in overtime rather than have the ball first. It didn’t matter because it only took the Jets five plays to score the game-winning touchdown.
Fitzpatrick finished the game with 296 yards passing and three touchdowns. Brady finished the game with 231 yards passing, one touchdown, and one interception. With more injuries on the offensive line, Brady was constantly pressured by the good Jets defensive line.
Here’s my two cents on the coin toss. I think Belichick is going to learn from this and not make this mistake again if the Patriots find themselves in an overtime game against Cincinnati or Arizona or Carolina.
The Patriots still have a chance to win home field advantage with a win at Miami next Sunday.