Paying the “Bill”

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After securing a pair of his former second round picks in LB Jermaine Cunningham and CB Ras-I Dowling, Rex Ryan acknowledged that 3-time Super Bowl Champion Head Coach Bill Belichick doesn’t “have all the answers” in trying to resurrect their careers.

One doesn’t have to look to hard to find a number of questionable draft choices recently from the Godfather up in New England, however are there other situations where Coach Belichick has gone unnoticed in failing to produce the “right answers?”

One of the areas of concern for Jets fans about Rex Ryan’s vaunted defense in his tenure at Gotham, is closing out opponents offenses in the final 2 minutes to secure a victory. Since taking over as head coach in 2009, Ryan’s defense has given up a lead 10 times in the final 2 minutes of regulation (lost 5 of those games). Perhaps Coach Belichick can offer advice in such situations? Not likely.

There is no doubt when Coach Belichick retires, he will go down as one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, perhaps even the best. One would be a fool to argue anything else, even despite the large discrepancy in win percentage with (.775) and without (.440) Tom Brady. However, one area where the genius has remarkably failed is closing out games, and he has done so in the largest setting a head coach can.

Looking back at New England’s 3 Super Bowl Championships, football fans remember Tom Brady leading his team down the field in the final seconds to set up Adam Vinatieri. That combined with holding off the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX is how NFL history celebrates the victories. However, looking deeper, one discovers a flaw that has since been exposed in the Patriots last 2 Super Bowl defeats to the New York Giants.

Looking at the Patriots five Super Bowl appearances under Coach Belichick, four times they have allowed either the tying or go-ahead score in the final 2 minutes of regulation. FOUR TIMES!!! Thank God for Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri, who turned the first 2 blown leads (both game-tying TD catches by Ricky Proehl) into championships, otherwise Coach Belichick would be remembered in an entirely different light.


Coach Belichick allowing game-tying or go-ahead scores

Final 2 minutes of Super Bowl


vs Giants Super Bowl XLVI

Amhad Bradshaw 6-yd TD run with :57 remaining puts Giants ahead 21-17 (won by same score)

Ahmad Bradshaw scores go-ahead TD in Super Bowl XLVI

vs Giants Super Bowl XLII

Plaxico Burress 13-yd TD pass from Eli Manning with :35 remaining puts Giants ahead 17-14 (won by same score)

Plaxico Burress go-ahead TD reception in Super Bowl XLII

vs Panthers Super Bowl XXXVIII

Ricky Proehl 12-yd TD pass from Jake Delhomme with 1:08 remaining ties game at 29. Panthers lose on Adam Vinatieri 41-yd FG, 32-29

vs Rams Super Bowl XXXVI

Ricky Proehl 26-yd TD pass from Kurt Warner with 1:30 remaining ties game at 17. Rams lose on Adam Vinatieri 48-yd FG


Looking at Super Bowl history, a team failing to hold the lead in the final 2 minutes of regulation has only happened four other times. Sam Wyche watched as his Bengals defense was unable to stop Joe Montana and the 49ers 3rd Super Bowl of the 1980s, as he capped a 92-yd TD drive with a 10-yd TD pass to John Taylor with :34 to give the 49ers a 20-16 win in Super Bowl XXIII.

Mike Holmegren’s Packers decided to let Terrell Davis score on a 1-yd TD to break a 24-24 tie with 1:45 left in Super Bowl XXXII to give Brett Favre enough time to score the tying TD, but was unable to do so, as John Elway won his first Super Bowl. After watching his Cardinals rally from a 20-7 4th quarter deficit to take a 23-20 lead, Ken Whisenhunt was 2:37 away from winning Super Bowl XLIII. However, Ben Roethlisberger found Santonio Holmes in the corner of the end zone on a 6-yd TD with :35 left to give the Steelers their sixth Super Bowl championship, 27-23.

Jeff Fisher is the last of the group, as his Titans, after rallying from a 16-0 deficit to tie Super Bowl XXXIV, allowed Kurt Warner to connect with Isaac Bruce on a 73-yd TD pass with 1:54 remaining. Adding to the heartbreak, Fisher would watch as Steve McNair came a few feet away from leading a game-tying drive himself.

So despite Coach Belichick’s no doubt Hall of Fame resume, which started as a defensive genius, he has watched his defenses allow as many game-tying or go-ahead scores in the final 2 minutes as all the other teams and coaches in Super Bowl history. Wow…

Hey Rex, you might want to use this in your next historic observation about your fellow AFC East colleague.

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