A culture of lost

The fourth-and-2 forever burned into our football brains wasn't called Sunday night in Indianapolis with Bill Belichick's team up six and just over two minutes left. Nor did it date  to Sept. 9, 2007 — opening day vs. the Jets — when the Patriot machine started going for fourth downs because it could and never really stopped.

No, Belichick's unexplainable call was born years ago, born at every step along the way where, bit by bit, he spent collateral earned during three Super Bowl wins and bucked convention. Ya know, because he could.

Consider: His aggression in benching Drew Bledsoe, then running the QB out of town. His resourcefulness that led Troy Brown from catching passes to defending them. And his icy decision-making that shipped Tom Brady's best friend Lawyer Molloy to the unemployment line just before the season opener. And they are but a few.

All those things worked, the effect of another Lombardi trophy outweighing the cause in the end, and oodles more followed in their wake. The results only added to the Belichick mystique, only colored this Hall-of-Fame coach in shades of gray. He knew what came next. The rest of us were just guessing.

In recent years, we've learned more and more that Belichick's culture of arrogance has also emboldened this absolute boor of a man. His team couldn't survive without actual NFL receivers. It couldn't withstand the Peyton Manning and the Colts with an All-AARP defense. And even after a perfect season, it couldn't send five guys deep against Justin Tuck and the boys, not every darn play.

Finally, Belichick's arrogance cost him dearly and served some justice to someone in need of more than his share. The Pats fell 35-34 on Sunday Night Football at the hands of the unbeaten Colts, who outscored their rival 21-10 in the fourth quarter and now sit somewhere between Reggie Bush (this) and Derek Jeter (this, this, this...and more) on the luck-meter.

Considering the outcome and the heightened attention thrown at Manning v. Brady CLXXXIV, or whatever it was, Belichick's heinous call may rank among the worst regular-season decisions in NFL history. It directly cost his team the game — I take no arguments — but I'll leave the specifics to colleague Norwood Buckner. What I cannot wrap my mind around is the utter unchecked arrogance that led Bill Beli-lost to believe going for it was his best option. The Colts still had the two-minute warning and a timeout. The Pats needed TWO first downs there, not one.

Maybe people will finally start to realize no one rules the sports world, particularly not a football coach who may or may not have Asperger's. For every success, failure hides around the corner, waiting to take a figurative dump on your hardware. (Belichick's hardware stinks like yesterday's lunch, by the way.)

For years, Belichick escaped the furor directed at his colleagues and earned credit for "trusting his offense," and "being one step ahead." Has anyone ever stopped to consider the Patriots are/were pretty darn good?

Had one of the Jims — Zorn, Fassel, Mora, Mora Jr., take your pick — pulled this, he'd be crucified, daggered to a slow death in some radio booth or on some glass-housed pregame show set. Of course, Belichick will survive it. He already dismissed any notion the God of Foxboro hath erred. Maybe the next act will be to cut Kevin Faulk for not gaining the extra half-yard.

Wouldn't surprise me. Not from this guy/clown.

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