Pats' assistant says boss unaffected by critics

Published Nov. 18, 2009 12:35 a.m. ET

When defensive coordinator Dean Pees returned to work after New England's stunning loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Bill Belichick was preparing for the Patriots' next opponent. The coach was seemingly unaffected by the wave of criticism stemming from his fourth-down gamble. "As far as I can see right now, it's business as usual," Pees said Tuesday. Belichick went for it on fourth-and-2 with the Patriots in front and just over two minutes left Sunday night, but his team fell a yard short, leaving the Colts just 29 yards from the end zone. Four plays later, Peyton Manning threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne and Matt Stover's extra point gave Indianapolis a 35-34 win. On Monday, it was time to move on. "I haven't seen Bill in any different light," Pees said. "I'm in here yesterday and did our job that we normally do on Monday. And I'm in here on Tuesday talking to him about game-planning things and Bill's Bill, and there hasn't been any change." Safety Rodney Harrison and linebacker Tedy Bruschi, now television analysts after retiring from the Patriots before the season, criticized the decision. So did former Colts coach Tony Dungy. But Charlie Weis, Belichick's offensive coordinator with the Patriots from 2000 to 2004 and now coach at Notre Dame, said he was sure the decision was well thought out. "I've been in those meetings before and I can promise you here's what happened: That situation was discussed before the game. That didn't happen just then," Weis said in South Bend, Ind. "It was discussed with the team. It was discussed with the coaching staff. You know, at each game Bill is so meticulous in what he does, I'm sure it was discussed with his coaching staff: 'If this situation presents itself, this is what we're going to do.' "He doesn't do things on a whim. When he did it, I'm sure it was with everyone's knowledge and everyone's agreement and it just didn't work out," Weis added. "But I've been on that headset plenty of times and the call did not surprise me in the least." Weis went to bed after the Patriots built a big lead and was surprised when he found the next morning that they lost. Would he do the same thing in a similar situation? "I wasn't in that situation, so I can't say that," Weis said, "but I can promise you in a critical situation in New England, the head coach is going to make the call and we're going to be ready to go with whatever he says to do." Closer to home, two other coaches sided with Belichick. "You read your team and if you like your team, you take risks," Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers said, "but you don't get do-overs in coaching and that's the difference. Everything else, you get to sit around and talk about it after the fact. In coaching, you make your decision and you don't apologize for it." Harvard football coach Tim Murphy said it was the right call and Belichick was courageous to do what he thought was best without concern for being second-guessed. "It was the epitome of confidence and leadership, not arrogance and stupidity," said Murphy, who was preparing for Saturday's traditional season finale against Yale. "Most coaches are living by, 'Am I going to look like an idiot if this doesn't go?' He doesn't care what The New York Times is going to say about it the next day." Bruschi and others said the decision showed a lack of faith in the Patriots defense. Murphy acknowledged it would be difficult to smooth things over with the defense, but "that's what leadership is." ---