FOXBORO -- In the waning moments of the first half, the Patriots were caught in a time crunch that forced them to settle for a field goal when they hoped to take a shot at the end zone for six points.
With just under 30 seconds remaining, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady scrambled from the pocket and gained three yards before sliding at the Baltimore seven-yard line. With 20 seconds left, and one timeout, the Patriots had two options:
1) Call timeout, throw a pass into the end zone and hope for a touchdown catch or an incompletion, which would stop the clock and allow the Patriots to attempt a chip-shot field goal to end the half, or 2) spike the ball at the line of scrimmage, stopping the clock, and then still have time to run one quick play for a touchdown; if that didn't work, the Patriots could call time out and finish the half with a field-goal attempt.
Going off of coach Bill Belichick's explanation after the game, the Patriots tried for Option No. 2 but couldn't get to the line in time to "clock" the ball (read: spike it) in time.
Belichick said there was no thought of going with Option No. 1, calling an immediate timeout after Brady's run.
"I thought we could get up there, or we wanted to try to get up there and clock it and have time to run a play and have the timeout to kick the field goal," Belichick said. "So no there was no thought put into calling an immediate timeout, not really. I guess if we had known that it would take as long as it did to get the ball finally clocked we would have called a timeout, but then we didnt get a great look on the play."
Eventually, the clock ticked all the way down to four seconds and Brady was forced to call timeout just so the team had enough time to kick a field goal.
"Tom actually called timeout at the same time I did," Belichick said, "so we just didnt have it."
However, it looked like Brady was trying to line up a play without ever spiking the ball to stop the clock. He was lined up in the shotgun, lining up his teammates for a play before he looked up and realized time was running out in the half.
"Well, we had one timeout left so we were trying to save that for the field goal," Brady said. "I would have loved to get the touchdown there, but we settled for the field goal to go up, whatever it was, 13-7 at the half. We felt pretty good about where we were at halftime, but we just didnt come out in the second half and execute very well."
It was a bit of awkward time management that rarely seems to grip the Patriots, an uncharacteristic moment in a night full of them.