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Belichick has left the building...a second early

February 4, 2008 12:03 AM

Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn't stick around long enough to watch the Giants celebrate their 17-14 victory. When Tom Brady's Hail Mary pass to Randy Moss fell incomplete with a second to go, Belichick made a beeline to greet Giants coach Tom Coughlin before proceeding directly to the locker room.

The only problem is that NFL rules require that the entire game be played out. Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady were long gone, but the Patriots defense had to jog back onto the field. After the game, linebacker Junior Seau told me he was almost to the locker room when someone said the game wasn't over. Seau came jogging out of the tunnel for the final play. Belichick cooled his heels in the locker room.

He was asked why he left the field with time left on the clock, but I don't think he understood the question. By my count, Belichick didn't have an answer longer than eight words in his post-game news conference.

In his opening statement, he said: "Congratulations to the Giants. They made some plays there at the end and we didn't. It's disappointing."

He then repeated eight different variations of that statement. The smug look that has helped make him one of the great villains in sports was on display, but his mind wasn't. It was like the questions weren't even registering.

One of the players told me that Belichick couldn't come up with anything to say in the postgame locker room. He basically acknowledged that it was a disappointing loss and headed to the interview podium.

I've never seen a coach arrive for his interview that quickly. The first question asked was about the Boston Herald report Saturday indicating the Patriots filmed a Rams walkthrough before the 2001 Super Bowl. A reporter wanted him to respond to the Rams' comments on the report.

"I haven't heard them," he said.

Belichick was then questioned about his decision to go for it on fourth-and-13 in the third quarter rather than attempt a 49-yard field goal. Tom Brady tried a deep pass to Jabar Gaffney on the play that sailed out of bounds.

"Yeah, but it was a 50-yard field goal," he said before muttering something about field position.

The only risk involved was giving the Giants the ball at the 39-yard line instead of the 31. At that point, the Giants had only managed to put three points on the board. How do you give up a scoring opportunity over eight lousy yards?

Even Belichick's mentor Bill Parcells, who is consumed with field position, wouldn't pass up that opportunity. It was a bone-headed move at a crucial point in the game.

Oh, and here's Belichick's longest response: "I mean look, they played well. They made some plays, we made some plays. In the end, they made a couple more than we did."

The good news is that Belichick got an early jump on the offseason. Back with much, much more in a few moments.

Super Bowl XLII

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