Monday, November 23, 2009

fourth and two

It would be difficult to live in these parts, and follow sport, to not know what the title of this entry refers to. Last Monday hundreds if not thousands of New Englanders were sleep deprived because the Patriots managed to squander a 17 point lead and lose 35-34 to the Indianapolis Colts, a team that is reviled in these parts for various reasons the greatest of which is that they have beaten the Patriots on a number of occasions. The sleep deprivation was based on a bewildering decision made by the coach, Bill Belichick, to go for a first down on 4th and 2 from their own 28 with a little more than two minutes to play. This decision was very much out of the box and was met by cacophonous disapproval. When asked about the decision Belichick was unrepentant, "We were trying to win the game" he said.

What is most significant about this event for those who are interested in fan subculture is that in fifteen years, there will be many people who will still remember what 4th and two means. Any time a coach makes a questionable decision like that, announcers will summon up the historical event and refer to it, like legal scholars talk about Brown vs. Board of Ed. In 2025 an announcer may analyze a comparable call by saying, "Yes, Charlie. That decision by coach Whoever has precedent in Belichick's famous 4th and 2 decision in 09." "Right Rex, It certainly, does. Who could forget that."

Interestingly, in a college game this weekend that is referred to as "The Game" in these parts, Harvard defeated Yale when Yale almost inexplicably made a similar decision on a 4th and 22. When asked about the decision, the Yale coach muttered a remarkably similarly sounding explanation, "We were trying to win the game."

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