On Sunday, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski made a borderline downfield catch in the final minute of the first half against the Houston Texans.
The Patriots, recognizing the play as one that could potentially be overturned, rushed to the line and ran another play. The drive ended with a touchdown in a game New England won, 27-20.
Some questioned why the Texans didn’t call a timeout to stop the clock and give officials a chance to review the play.
Bill O’Brien: ‘Not my job’ to call timeout
A miffed and agitated Bill O’Brien addressed that question after the game when reporters asked the Texans head coach what he was thinking.
— patrick (@PatDStat) September 9, 2018
“It’s not my job to do that,” O’Brien told reporters of not stopping the clock. “That’s not my job to call a timeout to make their job easier. … Call a timeout there, they rule it a catch, now the Patriots have more time to put a play together. You’re going to write whatever you’re going to write. But it’s not my job to do that.”
Of course it is his job to do that. It’s absolutely on the head coach to assess the situation and decide if it’s worth the risk of giving the Patriots a free timeout against the chance of having the catch overturned.
Patriots recognized risk on their end
They way the Patriots rushed to the line, they clearly understood that the call being overturned was a significant risk for them.
O’Brien could not challenge the call because it was in the final two minutes of the half, where the responsibility lies on the officiating crew to call for a review. He could have given the officials a chance to do so rather than let New England rush to the next play.
Officials acknowledge play would have been reviewed
Officials admitted after the game that the play would have been reviewed but wasn’t because New England hustled to get the next play off.
“The situation was that New York did get back to us,” referee Tony Corrente said in a post-game pool report. “However, unfortunately, they didn’t get to the game officials on the field until after the play had already started.”
O’Brien gives calmer take on Monday
On Monday, O’Brien provided more, calmer insight into his thinking not stopping the clock.
He explained that from his team’s vantage point, it looked like Gronkowski likely made the catch.
“He went up, he caught it, he kept both hands underneath it,” O’Brien said. “Now relative to some TV angles and some other video angles that I’ve seen, maybe it was questionable. But from the coaches vantage point on the coaches tape, it looked like a catch to me.”
O’Brien acknowledges the timeout option
He went on to acknowledge the frustrations of every Texans fan wondering what he was thinking in that moment.
“I do realize that I can take a timeout [in that situation],” O’Brien said. “That was my decision based on what I was told from upstairs and then what I saw from the sideline, and that’s how I decided to handle it. Hindsight being 20/20 with the benefit of eight different angles, surely I would have taken a timeout to see if they would at least buzz down to take a look at the play.
“But they didn’t, and I didn’t do that, and that’s exactly what happened, and we ended up giving up a touchdown at the end of the half that didn’t help our cause.”
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