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Some Patriots players shocked Belichick kicked off in overtime

By Ryan Wilson |

In overtime, Bill Belichick decided to kick off and take the wind at his team's back. (USATSI)
Marty Mornhinwheg is currently the Jets offensive coordinator. But from 2001-2002, he was the Lions head coach, where he went 5-27. One of his most notorious moments came in an '02 matchup with the Bears. The game went to overtime, the Lions won the toss ... and Mornhinweg elected to kick off because he felt having the wind at his team's back was more important than getting the ball first.

The Bears promptly marched down the field and kicked a field goal. Game over.

We bring that up because Sunday night, Patriots coach Bill Belichick used that very same logic. The Patriots won the overtime coin toss and Belichick opted to kick with the wind at his back. The news came as a surprise to, well, everybody, including some of his players.

"We all looked at each other like he was crazy -- then we all asked again and again and again," guard Logan Mankins told Comcast SportsNet's Postgame Live. "And we just wanted to make sure we were doing exactly what he wanted."

Safety Devin McCourty added: "Bill's a genius. Even the captains were like, ‘Really? Defer?' He wanted to take the wind. Obviously that was the best call."

"It was a strong wind," Belichick said of the decision. "We just had to keep it out of the end zone, obviously. I just felt like the wind would be an advantage if we could keep them out of the end zone on that first drive. We were able to do that. The wind was significant in the game, it was definitely significant."

A couple differences between the Mornhinweg and Belichick situations: First, the new overtime rules require a team to score a touchdown on the opening drive to end the game. A field goal gives the opposing team one chance to score.

Second, Belichick's track record as a head coach is slightly more impressive than Mornhinweg's.

Either way, the calculated risk paid off; the Patriots won after a Broncos special teams fumble set up Stephen Gostkowski's game-winning field goal.

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