Bill Belichick Used a Blowout Over the Jets to Expose a Weird Loophole

In Tuesday’s Hot Clicks: Bill Belichick makes a statement about the rule book and more.
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick smiles vs. Jets

This is what makes Bill Belichick happy

Bill Belichick did a weird thing on Monday Night Football. He smiled. 

Some people might call that more of a smirk than a full-blown smile, but by Belichick standards it might as well be an ear-to-ear grin. 

I wasn’t watching the game (anyone watching the final 10 minutes of a 33–0 pasting needs to have their head examined) so I was really wondering what could have made Belichick so pleased that he had a rare regular season outward display of emotion. The answer, naturally, is some picayune football nonsense. 

Belichick, showing mercy for once, decided to punt with the clock approaching 10 minutes and the Patriots facing a 4th-and-2 from the New York 33. New England intentionally took a delay of game penalty but the Jets declined it. The Pats then took an intentional false start penalty, which was also declined, before finally punting it away. 

Typically you take a penalty there to back the punter up a little bit so he has a better chance of pinning the opposition in deep. That wasn’t Belichick’s aim, though. Up by five scores, he was trying to make a point about the NFL’s clock management rules. 

Because the clock was running at the time of the first penalty, it kept running after the play clock was reset. That allowed the Patriots to run more than a minute off the clock. 

After the game, Belichick was asked if there was any “gamesmanship” involved in the decision. 

“No, it was just the way the rules are set up,” Belichick told reporters. “We were able to run quite a bit of time off the clock without really having to do anything. That’s probably a loophole that will be closed and probably should be closed but right now it’s open.”

Leave it to Belichick to take so much delight in the minutiae of football, and to realize that he could use a worthless play to highlight it and turn it into a news story. 

But the league can’t change the rule until after the season, so I kind of hope Belichick finds a way to use this loophole to win a playoff game. Then he’ll really smile.

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