Of the New England Patriots squads that Bill Belichick has coached to five titles and three other Super Bowl appearances, the 2019 team may not be the deepest or most talented.
But judging by Sunday’s nearly flawless gameplan that led to a 37-31 overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs, their coach is at the top of his game.
That’s because Belichick stuck to a strategy to play keepaway as much as play football. Quarterback Tom Brady and the offense held on to the the ball for 43 minutes and 59 seconds compared to just 20 minutes and 53 seconds for young gunslinger Pat Mahomes and his Chiefs.
“Belichick knew his team wasn’t suited to win a shootout with the Chiefs on their turf,” writes The Boston Globe‘s Christopher Gasper. “So, the Patriots tried to shorten the game and the amount of time that they had to defend an offense that led the NFL with 35.3 points and 425.6 yards per game. They did that in the first half and then ended up in a second-half showdown.”
Brady threw for 348 yards, but the stars were an offensive line that kept Kansas City’s vaunted pass rush away from him and opened up holes for a less glamorous running game that chipped in 176 yards on 48 carries. The defense held up, too, holding speedy wideout Tyreek Hill to just 42 yards.
It all went according to plan.