Why Didn’t the Patriots Take the Ball in OT?

East Rutherford, New Jersey

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—Why didn’t the Patriots take the ball after winning the coin toss in their overtime loss to the Jets?

It’s a question many ask.

After winning the toss, New England wide receiver Matthew Slater told the game official the Patriots wanted to defer, and get the ball second. Did Slater make a mistake?

“Coach (Bill Belichick) told us if we won the toss, he wanted to kick off,” Slater said after the game. “[Coach Belichick] told the ref that if we won the toss, we wanted to kick off. So when we won the toss, we told the ref we wanted to kick off.

“My only question was whether we got to decide which way we got to kickoff. We had already made the decision to kickoff. We didn’t have a say which way to kickoff. I was just trying to get clarification on that, because I thought we got to pick which way we got to kick, but we didn’t.”

The Patriots never got the ball. The Jets marched down field to score the game-winning touchdown, giving New York a 26-20 win. The team receiving the ball second in overtime only gets possession following a field goal, not a touchdown.

So, the Patriots’ prolific offense, led by superstar QB Tom Brady, never got on the field in the extra stanza.

Jets coach Todd Bowles claims he wasn’t surprised by Belichick’s decision.

“I’ve seen some coaches do that,” Bowles said. “I wasn’t surprised.”

Jets center Nick Mangold also claimed not to be surprised.

“I can see the gamesmanship,” Mangold said. “If you kick it down there, and you are able to stop us, you get the ball in good field position. Lucky for us it didn’t work out.”

And lucky for the Jets, thanks to this win and a Pittsburgh loss to Baltimore, they now control their own destiny in the AFC Wildcard race.