The Patriots managed to force Aaron Rodgers and the Packers into overtime despite playing with a third-string quarterback, but ultimately came up short in a 27-24 loss on Sunday.
One of the crucial moments in the game occurred during what proved to be the Patriots’ only possession in overtime. After New England returner Marcus Jones took a Green Bay punt 20 yards to the Patriots’ 49-yard line, rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe — playing because of injuries to both Mac Jones and Brian Hoyer — had a real chance to drive the ball into field goal range for a potential game-winning score.
But after a Zappe incompletion on third down, the Patriots were presented with a 4th-and-5 at Green Bay’s 46-yard line.
Ultimately, Bill Belichick elected to punt. Rodgers and the Packers’ offense promptly marched down field, halting only to kick the game-winning field goal as time expired.
So, in retrospect, how much consideration did Belichick give to going for it on fourth down in overtime, especially considering Rodgers — who Belichick praised in his postgame comments — was the opposing quarterback?
“I mean, we were able to put them on a long field,” Belichick told reporters on Monday when asked about the overtime punt. “We had just done that the series before on the opening kickoff of overtime.
“Look, the longer it is, the harder it is to make that decision,” he continued. “Certainly, wouldn’t want to come up short on 4th-and-5 and hand them the ball, a first down away from field goal range. There’s a trade-off there. I don’t think it was heavily considered, no.”
During his weekly interview on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show,” Belichick was asked a similar question about the decision to punt and give the ball back to Green Bay.
“If you don’t convert there, they’re one first down away from a field goal, so I didn’t feel very good about that,” Belichick explained. “We had them on a long field before and got the ball down to the 10-yard line. [Rodgers] had a big task there on second down.”
“He just did a good job on some of the [run-pass options], and they converted two other third downs,” Belichick added of Rodgers, “and was able to move the ball into field goal range.”
According to the “Surrender Index,” which calculates the decision-making of each NFL punt, Belichick’s choice to kick the ball away in the overtime circumstances was viewed as one of the more “cowardly” punts of the 21st century:
Sign up for Patriots updates🏈
Get breaking news and analysis delivered to your inbox during football season.