I knew there'd be some sort of backlash, but this is ridiculous.
Let me preface this by saying that as a Raider fan, I have hated Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots since that fateful day in the snow years back. I wouldn't be defending the guy if I didn't very adamantly believe he was in the right.
Which he truly was Sunday night.
Advanced NFL Stats had a great article on the call after the game ( http://www.advancednflstats.com/2009/11/belichicks-4th-down-decision-vs-colts.html), in which they show mathematically why Belichick made the right call. They show the following stats;
"With 2:00 left and the Colts with only one timeout, a successful conversion wins the game for all practical purposes. A 4th and 2 conversion would be successful 60% of the time. Historically, in a situation with 2:00 left and needing a TD to either win or tie, teams get the TD 53% of the time from that field position. The total WP for the 4th down conversion attempt would therefore be:
(0.60 * 1) + (0.40 * (1-0.53)) = 0.79 WP
A punt from the 28 typically nets 38 yards, starting the Colts at their own 34. Teams historically get the TD 30% of the time in that situation. So the punt gives the Pats about a 0.70 WP."
These stats, of course, don't factor in that Tom Brady is one of the best players in the league, and a two yard gain is a much higher percentage play with him at the helm than the NFL average (60%). It also doesn't factor in that #18 is one of the best in the world at the two-minute drill, and Peyton Manning will convert much more often than that 30%. (Yes, he will also convert more than that 53% as well, but that doesn't come close to making up the difference).
Are fans SO constricted in the way they think that they can't see the merit in this call?
Furthermore, all of this talk about it being a slap in the face to the defense is annoying as well. The defense still had a chance to come up big!
Had Manning started from his own zone, he would have been staring down a prevent-defense; the type of defense that he has consistently torn to shreds over the course of his career. The Pats wouldn't have a choice but to try to take away the big play.
Being completely realistic, barring some kind of fluke, was Manning not going to get the team down to the Patriots 30? Honestly? It was always going to come down to the Patriots tightening up in the red zone and stopping one of the best in the game. They still had the chance. They failed. Game over.
Hey defense, you feel slighted? Here's a thought; make the stop. You get the key sack or interception or 4th down stop that ends the drive, I'll bet you Belichick trusts you and punts next time. THAT is how competitors would have looked at the situation; a chance to prove themselves. By failing to stop Manning, they only further proved that Belichick made the right call.
Anyway, I'm sure you've already read a million articles on this call, but I just had to get my opinion off my chest. I think Belichick should be heralded for having the guts to make what was absolutely the right call, not put down because it didn't work.