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What it's all about (cont.)

Posted: Tuesday February 5, 2008 1:40PM; Updated: Tuesday February 5, 2008 4:05PM
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Bill Belichick's decision to eschew a 49-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter Sunday will be debated for years among Pats fans.
Bill Belichick's decision to eschew a 49-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter Sunday will be debated for years among Pats fans.
Damian Strohmeyer/SI
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BELICHICK SHOULD HAVE KICKED THE FIELD GOAL. From Don, of Burbank, Calif.: "Just a quick question: No second-guessing/criticism of the Belichick call to go for it on fourth-and-13 instead of trying a 48- or 49-yard field goal? The [12 men on the field] challenge was a great catch and coaching move, but I would think the call to go for it there was a huge blunder. Maybe the error was induced by the great successes they've had this year and their talent at wide receiver.''

And also this from Tim in San Diego: "Nobody seems to be making a big deal about Belichick deciding to go for it on fourth-and-13. That's a 48-yard field goal in a dome! If you don't have confidence in that attempt, at that point in the game, why is he your kicker?''

Good points by both of you, and upon further review, I was negligent in not taking Belichick to task for this. The amazing thing is this play occurred with 22 minutes left in the game and the Patriots up 7-3. If Stephen Gostkowski missed the kick, the Giants would have taken possession at the New York 38. If Tom Brady throws an incompletion, New York gets the ball at the 31.

All I can figure is that Belichick had more faith in Brady completing a 13-yard pass than he had in Gostkowski booting a 48-yarder. And I agree with you, Tim: If he has that little faith in his kicker, why's he on the roster? With the game 7-3 at the time, a field goal would make the lead seven, and, as it turned out, would have allowed the game to go to overtime instead of ending with the Giants up by the victorious margin of 17-14.

WHO'S THE NEW MONK? From Scott of Lincoln, Neb.: "Now that Art Monk is in the Hall of Fame, who takes the throne as the candidate that will invoke the most thunder from the fans about being overlooked by the voters? And not Cris Carter, who we all know will be in next year.''

Good question. I honestly don't think there is one. We voters don't hear a lot from supporters of other candidates. My guess is that Derrick Thomas will get a flurry of support. I noted in this session that Thomas got the most favorable play I'd hear in the years since he's been eligible from the voters in terms of the tenor of the discussion in the room. That usually means he's making progress and may be in soon. My guess is he'd be ahead of the other front seven players now eligible.

NOAH MAKES A GOOD POINT ABOUT ARLEN SPECTER. From Noah Charles, of Philadelphia: "A few days ago you criticized Arlen Specter for getting involved in Spygate, suggesting it's not any of Congress' business. While I agree with you that Specter's comparison of the NFL's tape destruction to the CIA's tape destruction was ridiculous political hyperbole, I think you are missing the larger point:

"The NFL has a congressional antitrust exemption. That makes the NFL's business Congress' business. The antitrust exemption imposes on the NFL a sort of public trust. If teams [as opposed to individual players] are engaged in organized cheating and the league itself is doing nothing about it, it calls the credibility of the entire sport into question. The NFL is big business, and the Super Bowl is the biggest cultural event of the year. If the Pats cheated in 2002, and the league knows or willfully chooses not to know, then Congress might be protecting a tainted product from competition. In that case, it's more like professional wrestling than sports.

"While I have no interest in seeing the NFL fail, I agree with Sen. Specter that the league's destruction of the evidence is highly suspicious, and was handled in a way that does not provide the viewing, paying public with confidence that what we are watching on the field is the product of two teams matching skills and wits on a level playing field. If the league cannot guarantee to the public the integrity of the product, then Congress is justified in re-thinking the antitrust exemption. Anyway, that's just my two cents. Unfortunately I think we'll be hearing a lot more about this.''

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