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Replay: Patriots Postgame Show Tue Dec 01 | 12:00 AM - 11:55 AM

Ask PFW: THE DECISION

Hi Guys. Very tough loss on Sunday. Reminded me of the AFC Championship Game in 2006 where the Pats couldn't stop the Colts in the 2nd half. I love the call to go for it on 4th and 2. First, even if we did punt, the Colts probably would have scored the way they were moving the ball. I just don't understand on a 4th and 2, why you run a route 2.1 yards long? Especially, when they had Moss catching short passes all game. As great as Faulk has been, don't you think a 5-yard pass to Welker or Moss would have been a better play call? Thanks Guys. Great Job!
Graham Smith

I do think the play call is worth breaking down as much as the decision to go for the first down. The Colts are focused on one thing, stopping the first down. To them giving up a bomb for a touchdown is equal to allowing the first down. They lose either way. So they were focused on the sticks on both third and fourth down. So if you decide to go for it, I don't think a route right at the marker is the best call. Maybe he got the yards or maybe he didn't. By why make it that close and run a route that allows the defender to sell out on the short stuff. Why not an intermediate route or something over the middle? It's all up for analysis when you make a decision with the game on the line like Belichick did. This type of ending is what sports, sports talk radio and bar room chatter are all about.
Andy Hart

Is Belichick believing in his own hype? I thought that 52 men played fairly well. I discount Nick Kaczur, but that is another subject. How can BB with his extensive background on the defensive side of the ball, go for it on 4th and 2? Is he not confident in his coaching schemes in stopping Manning? He is making out Manning to be unstoppable. Unbelievable!!! Get me another adult soda.Craig Fricke

Public service announcement: Drinking is never the answer. While I don't know what the Fricke you are talking about in terms of believing his own hype, I do leave this game with one thought, Belichick doesn't think as much of his defense as I did heading into this meeting. I thought the group was coming together pretty well. Are they great? No. But I'd have given them a chance, even with the injuries and being worn down, to try to stop Manning. It does feel like Belichick's decision was made out of fear, fear of giving Manning the ball and what he'd do with it. I didn't think Belichick made choices out of fear. I thought that was left to other, lesser coaches. Like in high school when my team played a dominant opponent and decided to quick-kick punt on third down. Fear. I didn't think Belichick thought that way. But he did on Sunday night. I understand his logic, I just don't agree with it. And the commentary on his defense is telling.
Andy Hart

What a bunch of stiffs. They took the gas pipe in the Super Bowl, and they just choked again. The Patriots magic is GONE. Maybe I'll become a Raiders fan, they probably have a better future.Richard D'Andrea

No response here. Just thought it was a funny, reactionary email worth posting. Have at it, if it's even worth your time to respond to such irrational thoughts. If you do send us any emails regarding Richard, please leave his nickname out of it. And the Raiders? Come on, if you're going to jump bandwagons there have to be a few better options than that.
Andy Hart

After seeing the Colts comeback and win, I just have to ask, how was that last play before the colts scored not a first down? I replayed it so many times and saw he had juggled the ball at first but later had it in his possession and two feet down and clearly had the ball on or even beyond the first down marker. Another thing I have to take from this game is, this defense doesn't seem to play like it's a top-10 defense. I know they are for the most part very young, but what is this defense missing? Because they had trouble with the Colts the first drive they had and then later looked like they couldn't stop them for even a down, I don't think it should have been decided in the final minutes but should have been more closer to a blowout.
Robert Smith

I don't see any way that anyone can definitively say it was or was not a first down. I have seen plenty of replays and would not bet my life on either answer. I think it's a case of whatever was called on the field was going to stand. I don't think a challenge would have or could have changed anything and I think the league has said as much. As for the defense, I've liked how they've played all year but the thing that they are lacking is a true playmaker. There isn't one on the team right now. Nobody is willing or capable of stepping up and making the game-changing plays at the most critical time right now. In the past guys like Harrison, Law, McGinest and Bruschi did that. They all did it multiple times. And having multiple guys with that ability to step up with the game on the line meant the defense was able to do that with regularity. That's just not the case anymore. This team's consistent playmakers are all on offense right now and I think that's a big part of why Belichick made the decision he did on Sunday night.
Andy Hart

OK, first off I just wanna say I think the Pats played hard but in all honesty besides SB42 I think this one of the hardest losses I have ever witnessed as a Patriots fan. I have provided a blue print if the Pats wanna win the SB and I'd like to know if you guys agree 1) GET RID OF LAURENCE MARONEY....make a barricade around the state of Massachusetts...he should not be allowed in it...he should not even be allowed to wear a Patriots jersey...he is soooo bad.... I am so sick of his soft running and then he has the nerve to fumble in the end zone (which cost us the game) 2) GET OUR SWAGGER BACK we have lost it especially on defense... when Asante Samuel was a Patriot, Bruschi, Vrabel, Harrison, there was a swagger and this bunch ain't got it so far...I understand it's the Colts but c'mon Jonathan Wilhite darn it........ :( 3)DON'T EVER (BILL BELICHICK) MAKE A STUPID CALL LIKE THAT AGAIN....that's twice now … one was in SB42 not taking the field goal that cost us perfection and now...........AHHHHHHHH!!!!!! WHY!!!!!!!!!
Jason Thompson

1) I don't agree with the Maroney point. He's a frustrating player and has never lived up to his potential or draft status. His fumble was a bad physical play. It is what it is. But it happens, even to the best of them. Remember when Jerome Bettis fumbled against the Colts in the playoffs? He had a pretty good career. 2) Are you looking for swagger or talent. I think the two, at times, go hand in hand. Playmakers have a swagger because they are good. This team is lacking talented playmakers right now. Get the plays and I think you'll get the swagger. Maybe a guy like Wilhite will develop into one of those guys. I think there is a chance. Most of the guys you are talking about in Samuel, Bruschi, Vrabel and Harrison were not immediate NFL stars. They had to develop. Maybe some of the young guys on this team will do the same moving forward. 3) Belichick is human. He makes mistakes, just like all of us. But I'll take his decisions over any other coach on the planet any day. I wouldn't have done what he did, but I'll stick with his ability to make the right decision more often than not. And more often than just about any other coach.
Andy Hart

I know it is all said and done and we cannot change it. After the last drive I was stunned to see all the mistakes made by BB in just four downs. First we pretty much wasted two important time outs before 2nd down and before the 4th down attempt, why would he even take a chance at giving manning only 28 yards to go to win the game? It would seem like its more risk than reward doing that. After this I'm questioning BB on everything he does just because we have had a lot of luck throughout the season, if it were not for luck we could be sitting here at 4-5 or even worse.John Opitz

New England called a timeout before the series due to a communication/personnel problem. Then it called timeout to go for it on fourth. That's not great, but I don't think it's why they lost. They lost because they chose to go for it and put the game on the line and didn't get the first down. It really is that painfully simple. Get 2 yards and you win. Don't and you probably don't. As a fan, I would think you would question every decision your coach makes. Just because you question a decision doesn't mean you don't like or trust your coach. We're all human. We all have opinions. We all have the right to question things. But I don't think Belichick has gotten by this year or over the years on luck. He's good. The best. But sometimes even the best make mistakes, if you think Belichick did indeed make a mistake on Sunday. Based on talk radio and emails the fandom seems to be pretty well split on that right now.
Andy Hart

While I agree that we should have punted the ball in that situation, I think people need to relax a little. What if we made it? You would all be saying "what a gutsy move", "in Belichick we trust", "best coach ever". People need to realize we are very lucky, although this wasn't his best decision, it doesn't erase the call to intentionally take a safety against Denver to win the game, or the decision to play Brady over Bledsoe, or the numerous other tough decisions it took to win us multiple Championships! So chill out people, at least we know we can compete with and beat any team in the league, I like our chances going forward!!
Matt Rea

I agree with both points. First, Belichick has made thousands of great in-game calls over the years. He's made plenty of great decisions on game plans, personnel moves, motivational tactics and endless other ways he directly leads his team to winning games and consistently remaining among the best in the NFL. That's a fact that, unlike Sunday's decision, cannot be debated. I also like the team's chances moving forward. They hung with the best team in football, theoretically, in their place. They could have/should have won. They played well at times on both sides of the ball. If they improve from here, like most Belichick teams do, New England will be a formidable force later this season. Maybe that will include a rematch with the Colts in the playoffs in Indy. Wouldn't that be fun!
Andy Hart

BB made a major mistake. Does he not realize we were playing Manning? He didn't trust our defense to stop them, but if he punted, they would of had 70+ yards to go, in 2 minutes to get a TD, but instead to risk the game and the season and ultimately the playoffs possibly, on a 4th down and leaving Manning 30 yards is a joke. OK, he thought Brady could get 2 yards but the important word is "thought" did it not cross his mind that we might not get it and leave Manning 30 yards in 2 minutes or a TD, if he kicked it away, and they have 70 yards for a TD, so much more could happen!!! I'm annoyed, can u tell, BB is a good coach and I'm pleased to have him, but sometimes, I get the feeling he's scared to lose and doesn't like to put faith in his D and would rather trust Brady even though going for 4th down is hazardous at best? I'm not an idiot, saying "sack BB", he's a great coach, but if we have to go to Indy in the playoffs and we lose, I hope he remembers this game, and knows he messed it up!!! not Brady, not Faulk, not the Colts, and not our D, but he made a mess of it!!! Thanks for letting me speak, I love the Pats and BB, but that was a mistake and he should be made to carry all of the players' pads at practice and clean the mud of their cleats after the next game!!!Tim Hart

I don't think Bill will be getting the punishment you suggest, my brother from another mother. My guess is the pain of the loss is his punishment. He'll have to live with that now and moving forward as the season plays out. I doubt very much he is second-guessing himself. I think he made what he thought at the time was the best decision for his football team. It didn't work. I didn't agree with it. But it is what it is and I think he's willing to live with it and has a clear conscience knowing he believed in the move at the time with no regrets. Other than the fact that they lost, of course.
Andy Hart

I don't care anymore that we lost and I don't think we were robbed. But Faulk absolutely made the catch for the first down. You can see he had the ball between his hands and chest while his foot was still down he didn't cross back over the first down line until after he left his feet. BB went for it and got it. The Tom Brady timeout after the touch back on the kick off at the end of the game there is what lost us this game. Maybe even the Welker one, not sure what that was for though(do you know?). Anyway I am glad bill went for it. Any other day and were 7-2 and calling him the mad Genius again.
Jae DeLuca

He's still a football genius. That doesn't change based on one decision or one loss. For anyone who doubts that, go down the list of the other 31 teams and tell me which team's coach you'd rather have. Or, go through the list of guys out of work right now. Which one of those guys would you rather have? I didn't think so.
Andy Hart

I'm one of the thousands of fans disappointed with the loss after it appeared the Pats had it in the bag. But unlike the majority of folks, I didn't blame the 4th down call for their loss. How can you blame BB for making the call when it was very obvious the defense could not stop the Colts. After the Colts shredded their (suddenly) inept defense the last couple of plays, anyone with a brain would've called the same play. I think the real issue is there was no clear leader in the Pats defense to calm them down and keep their concentration in check. This would not have happened had Bruschi, Vrabel, Seymour, Harrison were still with the team. These leaders would MAKE SURE that everyone kept their focus. Your thoughts?Jaimie Baines

It did happen when those guys were on the team. AFC title game, January 2007. Manning drove his Colts 80 yards in seven plays in 1:17 to win 38-34. Indy went on to win the Super Bowl. The Colts scored 17 points in the fourth quarter that night. They hit for 32 in the second half after the Patriots after New England established a 21-3 advantage at the break. Maybe that was in Belichick's mind, at least partially, on Sunday night. They could not stop Manning that day. They couldn't stop him on the previous drive in this meeting. Maybe that's why he made the decision.
Andy Hart

IMHO, Belichick made the right decision for going for it on 4th and 2. No matter what the odds are, the history speaks for itself. We couldn't stop the Giants in the Super Bowl in last 2 minutes for crying out loud that included the likes of Bruschi, Seymour, Harrison etc. We couldn't stop the Colts in 2006 AFC championship game. I can bet if the Colts were in the same situation they would have done the same thing by going for it instead of giving it back to Brady with over 2 minutes left.
Arch S.

That's an interesting thought. Would Jim Caldwell (or Tony Dungy before him) have made the same decision that Belichick did on Sunday night? I don't think so. I don't think there are many coaches on the planet at any level that would have made the decision that Belichick did. Maybe they wouldn't have the confidence to go against traditional thinking. Maybe they wouldn't have the smarts to go against traditional thinking. Whatever the reason, I don't think there are too many coaches that would have done what Belichick did.
Andy Hart

Earlier this year a number of fans wrote in demanding Coach Belichick to be fired and at the time I felt that such thoughts were ridiculous and even heresy. However, after looking at the pattern the Pats have fallen into, with the Sunday Night game against the Colts the icing on the cake, such thoughts may not be that outrageous. Perhaps Coach B has bitten off more than he can chew by running the offense, presumably running the defense, acting as GM and serving as head coach. Let's face it, some of his coaching decisions of late, including in the Super Bowl have been poor to say the least. The Pats remind me of the Yankees who immediately won 4 World Series under Joe Torre, came within three outs of another in '01 (much like the Pats last minute loss to the Giants) and were never able to recapture a championship until they changed managers and retooled around the core of four. The Pats window with Brady at the helm has maybe another five years. The coaching seems to be getting stale. Now while I know that the Kraft family would never do it, and I'm not saying that I'm advocating it, in a hypothetical world, how do you think the Pats would do going forward with Mike Shanahan as their head coach? He has won two Super Bowls with a Hall of Fame quarterback, always had one of the best O-lines in the league (which in my opinion is a weakness of the Pats) and always had a top running game where you could plug in any number of running backs because of the blocking scheme. This addresses many of the Patriot's weaknesses. In addition, Shanahan is the only coach to have a winning record against Coach B and always gave the Pats fits. Hypothetically speaking of course, what do you think?Gary Goldstein

I still believe, and always will, that Belichick is the best coach for the Patriots. He's shown me the ability to win too many times, too many different ways, for me to think he's no longer the best man for the job. His time may run its course here. He may need to be kicked out of town at some point, just like Shanahan was in Denver. But we're nowhere near that point in time. And I don't see that point on the horizon. Had the Patriots gotten another few inches on the spot Sunday night most people would be praising them as one of the best team's in football and favorites to win the Super Bowl. But they didn't, and now you want to run Belichick out of town? As the ESPN Monday night pregame show would say, C'mon man!!!
Andy Hart

Over the last few years I have noticed that Bill B seems to call timeouts at rather odd times. He takes many TOs on defense and often uses timeouts early in the 3rd quarter. Obviously, Sunday's game brought more attention to that. On the play where Welker called TO because they had the wrong personnel in, is it worth taking a TO there? Wouldn't it be better to just waste one play and take a knee or run a sneak than use a timeout? It always seems to come back and bite a team later on.
Lou Anders

I do think the timeout was worth it. At that point in a game I don't think you can waste a play when you don't have the right personnel on the field. Worse yet, you could run a play and because things are right, something really bad could happen. With the game on the line I think you have to have the entire offense on the same page – the right page. It didn't work out in the end, but I thought that timeout was the right call under the circumstances.
Andy Hart

My question is about the Patriots conditioning (or lack of) their last few times playing in Indy. The defense seems to have wilted late in games there. Is it overly hot there? Is Manning's no-huddle offense that hard to play against? Are they not substituting enough early in the game to keep players fresh for the 4th quarter? I only ask because it seems like a problem that could be fixed if it could be properly identified. Do you have any ideas?Dex Willmire

Running out of gas has been an issue in Indy. While there were complaints about the heat back in the AFC title game in the RCA Dome in January 2007, I didn't hear anything of the such this weekend in the new stadium. I do think the no-huddle can tax a defense. In this case the defensive line was undermanned going in with Ty Warren and Jarvis Green out due to injury. Then the front lost Tully Banta-Cain and Rob Ninkovich during the game. That cut down on the potential for rotating or having fresh guys. That may have added to the poor situation the team found itself in coming down the stretch. I think it was a case of a few circumstances converging coming together at the exact wrong time. I'm not sure much could be done about it.
Andy Hart

Looking back on this game and others that have escaped the Patriots in recent memory, one element of the game always seems to be missing: the power running game. The Patriots won three titles with Antowain Smith and Corey Dillon at running back. When they were ahead late in games, they had that big, bruising guy they could count on to keep the chains moving and run out the clock. They have not had that guy since Dillon left. You shouldn't have to pass the ball twice to get 2 yards in the 4th quarter... I realize that the Patriots strength remains in their passing attack with Brady, Moss, Welker, etc. But if your defense is too tired in the 4th quarter than you have to grind out the game and get them some rest. Do you agree?Kyle Lawson

Aside from the crazy call and all the bumps and bruises the Pats faced in the front seven, I think the key to the game turning around was the inability of New England to run the ball. Can you believe we'd ever miss Antowain Smith? Absolutely MUST be able to control more than 23 seconds of the clock with the game on the line. Pats had two, maybe three opportunities to simply get 3.5 yards a carry and just 3 first downs. That's routine. Excuse me, that should be routine. Gotta be able to close the game! So - if you're in agreement, do you think this is more an issue of Bill O'Brien's play-calling or a real inability for the Pats to tighten the chinstraps and play in your face? Thanks.
Grant Bronk

While I'm sure it would be nice to have a Corey Dillon in the backfield to run out the clock, that's just not the case right now. The team is built, for better or worse, around the passing game. Belichick decided to try and win the game with his best players. That's Brady, Moss, Welker, Faulk and his offense. If the Patriots move the ball and get first downs, they win the game. The clock runs with complete passes. The chains move with first downs through the air. You can't just run the ball if that's not what you do well. I agree that you have to close out the game. But more often than not, when the game is on the line for this team it's the passing game that has to be expected to win the game. That's just how it's built. That's where its strengths are.
Andy Hart

What did you think of Reggie Wayne's TD at the end of the game. I thought right away he pushed of and should have been a penalty.Ryan Pickup

I didn't think the same thing. Although I did think that Moss could have been called for pushing off on his long touchdown. I'd rather let the players play, on both teams, and have the game decided on the field instead of in the hands of the officials. I didn't think Wayne cheated. I thought he simple showed himself as one of the best receivers in the game and came up big when his team needed it. To me, he's more scary for an opponent than Marvin Harrison ever was. While Harrison seemed soft and turtled at big times, Wayne showed he's a legit playmaker with the game on the line.
Andy Hart

Ok, you guys must be mobbed with angry posts. But read this one because I think it's important we look at the silver lining. First off, if this is the best the AFC has to offer, I like our chances come playoff time. We dominated that team on their own turf for the majority of that game! The cards just didn't fall right. Next, most everything that went wrong is FIXABLE. I'm talking Maroney's fumble at the goal line, Brady's INT in the end zone, and the 4th down call. No doubt this is a heartbreaker, but I think this team showed us that they have the ability to be the best. Any thoughts on all this? And thanks for reading.David Gilmore

That certainly is an optimistic view. But I've seen the Colts beat the Patriots in close games in three of the last four meetings in Indy. I thought for a lot of the time a lot of things went right on Sunday night and the Patriots still lost. The loss means any postseason meeting will likely be at Lucas Oil. I don't feel great about any such meeting. I don't feel great about this defense stopping Manning & Co. on their own field. (Just like Belichick didn't feel very confident in his defense when he made his fourth-down decision.) I think they must feel like no matter what the situation, no matter how much they trail by, that they can come back on the Patriots. That's a great confidence to have. I'll admit it, I'd be a bit dubious about a rematch with these Colts in their house this coming January. Maybe my feelings about that will change over the rest of the season. Maybe not.
Andy Hart

In Bill We Trust. This is to prematurely cuss out all those Pat's fans who are going to overreact about the now infamous 4th and 2 play. Don't forget that Peyton was tossing all over our D in the 4th and had 2 minutes to go 70 or less yards with 2 time outs. There's only one person I'd rather have in that situation, and he would have been on our sidelines. If Kevin had landed on the other side of the 30, everyone would be calling Bill a genius, which he still is. This was JUST A REGULAR SEASON GAME. Remember, we can still be happy the Jets lost. Now, for my question, can we disown all the fair-weather fans who start dumping on BB every time things don't go our way? And what the heck happened to our pass D the 4th quarter? I mean really guys? And Lawrence, do you not want to be on the team next year? Haha, kinda J/K about the last one. Kinda.Pascal Rawls-Philippe

First, the Colts only had one timeout. Second I'd like to put forth some statistics dug up by former PFW writer Shane Donaldson: "on their previous 15 plays from scrimmage before the 4th-and-2, the Patriot offense had gained a total of 31 yards, and had gained 2 yards or less on 10 of those plays." Pretty interesting numbers to consider, no? Too bad he doesn't work for us anymore, he's clearly more astute than any of us still on staff here. The point is great, after playing very well all game the Patriots were struggling on both sides of the ball in the immediate time leading up to the final fourth-down decision. The offense couldn't move the sticks and run the clock out. The defense could no longer stop Manning. So maybe the Patriots would have lost regardless of the decision Belichick made. We know the outcome after going for it; we'll never know for sure what would have happened had they punted. And I think people are piling on Maroney because he's an easy target. A red zone fumble is certainly unacceptable but it's not like he pulled a Patrick Pass and dropped the ball. If I remember correctly a Colts defender made a good play and put his helmet on the ball. This may be Maroney's last season in New England, who knows, but I don't think it's because of that play.
Andy Hart

I know that I am more than a little biased with my views on the game but I have a question that has been bothering me for years. Is it just me or does it seem whenever we play the Colts that there are always some very questionable calls from the officials? Last night's bad spot and phantom pass interference were just the latest in a long line of bad calls that always seem to go against the Patriots when they are playing the colts. This goes back to the AFC championship game when it seemed like the refs were giving the Colts first downs the entire second half on phantom calls. Don't get me wrong we should have won last night no matter what but the phantom calls have to stop.Chuck Temple

Do I think NFL officiating is too inconsistent? Yes. Do I think it's as good as it should be? No. But do I think it's biased toward any one team in any rivalry? Hell no. I know we're all emotional and look for reasons why things went oh so wrong, but can we put the "refs and the league are against us" conspiracy theories away for a while? Please. Either that, or you've uncovered the truth that all NFL officials are actually ex-Colts who fill out the top slots on Bill Polian's Christmas card list. And if that's the case, you should probably lay low for a while. I don't think the league would look too kindly on the guy who uncovered their devious deeds. You might be in danger.
Andy Hart

I have no problem with BB decision to go for it, that is not why we lost the game. I think the Patriots inability to run the ball in the 4th quarter and take time off the clock was the real problem. With Fred Taylor and Morris out, the Pats lack the power running back/game. Is Maroney gone after the season? Is there any free agents left who could help? For all his off field issues, I think Larry Johnson would have been worth the risk.
Jeff Cabral

Johnson signed with the Bengals. I wanted no part of him anyway. His production is no longer worth all the headaches he brings. He's always been a problem and always will be. As I said earlier, the Patriots aren't built to run out the clock with some power running game right now. It is what it is. The offense is a passing attack. But if we have the confidence to give Brady the shot to throw for it with the game on the line on fourth-and-two, shouldn't we have the confidence him to throw the ball to run out the clock? He couldn't do that. They lost. End of story.
Andy Hart

In the 4th quarter of the Colts game Sunday night the Patriots were flagged for pass interference, a 30-yard penalty that led to the 2nd TD of that quarter for them. I think it was on Darius Butler, but, not sure which receiver. My question is, and I think this is how it happened, if the receiver basically stops short in his route, and the DB covering him runs into him not realizing fast enough to stop as well, is that pass interference? It's obviously not intentional in this kind of case. Also, how does the rule change when the DB turns to look for the ball in the air to try and intercept it? Thanks.
Gary Abrams

Basically, yes, it's pass interference. If you impede a receiver's ability to catch the ball and are not clearly playing the ball yourself, it's interference. That's why it's always important to turn your head to the ball and at least make it look like you are playing the ball and not simply the receiver if there is any kind of questionable contact. In all the aftermath, I don't think I've seen a replay of the call you are talking about. Live I thought it was an OK call. As I said earlier, I hate to have games decided on flags, but it happens. I don't remember thinking that was a terrible call at the time.
Andy Hart

I am stunned, just like most other folks with the outcome of this latest Pats/Colts game. The sting of this loss to me is second only to the SB loss a few years ago. With that said, I do not feel like jumping off of a bridge and I am not in agreement with a large portion of the media that makes the 4th down decision seem like the end of the football world. I do not agree with the decision, but I do think Faulk did get control of the ball in enough time to make that first down (how can a call be made from behind the receiver?). Of course if the team had better time out management or if Maroney held onto the ball, then things could have been different. I do feel after watching this game that Vollmer did really well and Brady seems to be rounding into form. My only concern is how well will the team respond to the outcome/decision making of this game. Will the Pats defense (who did a decent job considering the injuries) collapse or will they respond over time and show a statement that Belichick should have trusted them more? How much do you see the players resenting the decision to go for it? Thanks for your time.Paul Calderone

This is a very good question, Paul. The defense cannot feel good right now about how the game played out in Indy – both for letting the Colts get back into the game and then for the lack of confidence Belichick showed in the unit with his fourth-down decision. But as former captain Tedy Bruschi said on ESPN, the unit must move on this week and get ready to play the Jets. I think the Jets, and a revenge factor, are the perfect opponent to help the team move on. I think you are on to something in that the group could use this as a rallying cry and motivation going forward. They could prove Belichick wrong. My question is simply which player or players will get that message out to the group? Who is the leader that uses this situation to make the unit better? I'm not sure I can answer that question and that may be part of the problem with the unit moving forward. This could be – to steal a word that's become all too popular lately – a teachable moment. But because of Belichick's direct tie to the overall situation, he can't really be the teacher. In this case I think the teacher needs to be a player, a leader, and I'm not exactly sure who that guy is with the likes of Harrison, Bruschi, Vrabel, McGinest and others no longer in the locker room. Even though he doesn't play much, could it be Junior Seau? We'll see.
Andy Hart

Hey guys first of all, thanks for all you guys do. You help us west coast fans feel like we're right there with our Pats. I've been a Pats fan for a long time. So, I'll say this...I do not regret the "4th and 2" play. The offense had had their way for most of the game. A first down pretty much seals the game and if you ask me, the refs should be under fire today and not B.B. Our boys converted. I have enjoyed MANY gutsy moves from B.B. That's why I love him as our HC. He's not afraid to take chances. My questions is this, though. Did I miss something about Junior Seau? According to Al Micheals, the defense was getting tired due to lack of depth. I did not see # 55 out there and can't imagine that he would be on the sidelines during that game, especially if the "D" was tired. Where in the world is #55?Dave Cruz

For the second straight week, Seau did not play. He was active and in uniform on the sideline but never stepped on the field. Why? Not sure. He said all offseason that he only had about six games left in his aging body, so maybe the coaches are directly monitoring his playing time now to maximize his impact later in the season. I don't really know, but that's all I can really think of. I promise to try to ask Belichick about Seau's playing time in a press conference this week, just for you.
Andy Hart

I think Jonathan Wilhite is a decent corner, but he is only in his second year and there are better cover corners in our secondary. Seeing as how Reggie Wayne is the Colts best receiver, shouldn't we have had Bodden or Meriweather or McGowan covering him? Could've made a difference had Belichick not showed his lack of confidence in the defense which is significantly better than last season. I'm a defensive guy and I can't understand the reason for that call. Now if it was the defense from '08 I could understand. Manning was hot last night and no defense would've stopped him in my opinion. Thanks for the work you do.
Dave Sarro

Sarro to disagree with you (We have a winner!!! My lamest name joke ever!!!) but I don't think any of the Patriots defensive backs are worthy of matching up with Wayne. That's not what the Patriots do on defense, certainly not in the post-Ty Law era. I thought Wilhite did about as well as you could probably expect against Wayne last night. And Wayne is too good for any of those other guys you mention. I wouldn't even consider putting a safety on him. That would be suicide. Beyond that I don't think there is much difference between Wilhite and Bodden's cover abilities. To me, Wayne showed he one of the best receivers in the game and is better with the game on the line than Marvin Harrison ever was for the Colts. Aside from brining back a guy like Law or Deion Sanders, I'm not sure too many guys are ready to match up with him.
Andy Hart

What do you think are the chances of both the Colts and the Saints posting a 16-0 regular season record this year? A lot of experts give the Saints a good chance and the Patriots were the one team most picked to knock off the Colts. Overall this has been a bizarre season in the NFL and we may just see 2 18-0 teams vying for the Super Bowl! The '72 Dolphins must be biting their nails as they have 2 threats to their perfect record now. I'd love your opinion. Thanks.
Bob Stuart

I don't think either team will go undefeated, but I'd give the edge to the Colts. I think the Saints are too inconsistent and trail in games too often. They come back to win, but sooner or later they're going to dig a hole they can't get out of. Plus, I give the Patriots a pretty decent shot to beat them. The Colts are already past that hurdle. (Plus, I'd say there is an chance that the Colts rest players to try to get healthy down the stretch, as they've done in the past. They have a new coach, so who knows? But there is a chance.) If I had to guess, I'd say neither team goes undefeated. The least likely scenario is they both go undefeated. And I don't think there is any shot they both make it to the Super Bowl, I'd be stunned if that happens.
Andy Hart

Dear PFW: You must be getting a barrage of email about the attempted 4th down conversion against the Colts on Sunday night. It'll be interesting to see how Patriots fans react and how Ask PFW sorts everything out. I'm curious about one thing. The math geeks at AdvancedNFLstats.com gave the Patriots a 60% chance to convert the 4th down, versus a punt that gave Peyton Manning 53% odds to score. I've been seeing a lot of Monday morning hindsight that says Belichick made the wrong call. Yet, on Sunday night, before the outcome was known, which odds would you pick? (Aside: Ever notice how success is never questioned but failure draws out all the people who just KNEW you were wrong?) What do you think? Did Belichick make the wrong call at the time place he made it? Was that even the biggest difference-maker in the game? How about that Maroney fumble at the Colts goal line? What are the playoff implications? Has the stage been set for New England to return to Indianapolis for a rematch in the playoffs? Thanks for reading and best wishes. -Ryan Pasquini
PS. Please don't publish my email address. Thanks!

We don't ever publish email addresses, so don't worry about people emailing you at RyanS@PFWLoveChild.com. Your secret is safe with us. As I said earlier (and expressed in the Lucas press box at the time, I promise) I would have punted. I thought Belichick put the game on the line before he had to and gave a vote of no-confidence to his defense. But I don't think it was a terrible decision. I understand his thinking and logic, I just don't agree with it. But he certainly has the resume, track record and knowledge to make that call. I don't. I just react to it. And I have a pretty good track record doing that thanks to my very good friend – hindsight. He makes me all-knowing, baby! Of course Belichick usually makes the right call without hindsight's help.
Andy Hart

I thought Vollmer did very well in the game vs the Colts. So what do you think happens now? Does Matt Light stay on as a back up? Or does he go back to starting? I'm hoping Light is used as a back up. Vollmer is much better.Matt Lucia

I have been very impressed with Vollmer, especially the way he has progressed over his playing time. I thought he struggled at times with Tampa's Stylez G. White in London. A couple weeks later he's pretty much stone walling Dwight Freeney. That's impressive. He's clearly the left tackle of the future. I think he needs to continue playing. If Light has the ability to play the right side – something he's never done in the NFL or in college – I'd like to see him play there. If he can't, then I think Vollmer has to play the right side for the rest of the year. In my opinion he's been too good to take out of the lineup now. I want to see him continue to get reps and get better. In a perfect world that would happen at left tackle, the position he's going to play moving forward. If Light isn't capable of playing the right side (a change that's minor to some players and a deal breaker for others) then Vollmer (who can play both sides) should get his chance on the right side for the rest of the season. Nick Kaczur has never been able to lock down that spot in my mind, and he certainly didn't do that with his struggles with Robert Mathis on Sunday. If all three guys are healthy, I think Kaczur has to go to the bench.
Andy Hart

Why can't we(The Patriots) sign WR Marvin Harrison? I think he could help us with short completions down field, and with Moss being double teamed that leaves him and Wes to make big plays and help us throughout the season!! -Just a suggestion- -Emmanuel"Mannie" Jaidah

The Patriots can sign Harrison. But why would they want to? His skills fell of greatly in recent years, he battled knee injuries, has off-field issues related to a shooting, reportedly wants more than just minimum money and would have to learn a totally new system on the fly. After eight straight seasons with double-digit touchdowns, he totaled just six in 20 games over the last two years. With Peyton Manning! I always thought he was kind of soft. Now he's old, damaged goods on and off the field. No thanks.
Andy Hart

Do you think we will see Vince Wilfork in a Patriots uniform next year? Thanks
Kevin Hahn
Utah

Hey PFW! Reading Ask PFW is surely a highlight of my Tuesdays, keep it up! After seeing Vince Wilfork play DE I came to appreciate him even more; just can't say enough about such a classy player. The Patriots would surely use its franchise tag on Wilfork if they can't come to terms on an extension. As I understand it other teams would still be able to sign Vince even if gets the tag; what kind of compensation would the Pats receive if he does accept another offer?Hamed Almajed

My guess is that if the team can't reach an extension with Wilfork, he will be franchised. There are two types of franchise tags. The most common means that he can still negotiate with other teams and the Patriots have the right to match any offer he gets. If they don't, the other team would give New England two first-round picks. The exclusive franchise tag comes with a slightly higher tender offer, but takes away the player's right to negotiate with any other teams. The bottom line is that whether it's under the franchise tag or a new deal, I do think that Wilfork will be with the Patriots in 2010. I think he's the best player on the defense, works as hard as anyone, does his job (as the sign he wrote himself in his locker tells him to!) and is pretty versatile when called upon on the field. I don't think you can let that type of talent just walk away. And I don't think the Patriots will.
Andy Hart

Great Job, guys. When was the last time the Pats lost 3 games in a row?
Andy Gibbs

The Patriots have been Stayin' Alive and avoiding long losing streaks since the team lost four in a row to the Chargers, Dolphins, Packers and Broncos from Sept. 29 to Oct. 27, 2002. So tell me, How Deep is Your Love for the team after you found out this information?
Andy Hart

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