FOXBORO - When the Patriots win the opening coin toss, their penchant is to say to the other team, "You decide first if you want to kick or receive."The reasons for any team deciding to defer have been discussed in pretty good detail since the rule was put in a few years back. The prevailing reason cited is getting the ball first in the second half when the game is compressed and possessions become increasingly crucial. Bill Belichick said Tuesday the decision isn't pre-programmed. "We discuss (the decision) every week," Belichick said. " 'We win the loss, we lose the toss. What we're gonna do with the wind . . . relative to what the conditions are?' "There are certainly practical aspects to the conditions that weigh in, but for the Patriots, the quick-strike potency of their offense also makes having the option to get the ball to start the second half appealing. Tom Brady is so proficient at moving the Patriots' offense in for half-ending scoring chances that it becomes doubly-irritating for a team to allow points to the Pats just before the half and then know New England will have the ball to start the third quarter as well. During the Patriots' November win over the Jets, New York quarterback Mark Sanchez called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining in the half and the Jets in scoring position. The stopped clock forced New York to run more plays and give the Patriots another possession before the half. Rex Ryan called the timeout "the stupidest play in football history" because he knew Brady had the potency to score before the half and that New England would get the ball at the start of the second half. "If you take the ball at the beginning of the game you have a chance to have one more possession in the first half," Belichick explained simply. "Take the ball at the beginning of the second half, you have one more chance to have the ball in the second half. It's not like you're stealing from somebody . . . "But what about the uniqueness of the Patriots' offense and Brady's ability to manage the clock?"Time management at the end of the half is critical in every game, regardless of what you do with the coin toss," Belichick shrugged.In Belichick's mind, it seems to be a minor issue. And not nearly as memorable as one instance in which he said he saw "A coach tell a guy what to call (heads or tails). More important, I've seen them criticize what the call was (after a player lost the toss)."Control. Freak.
The Patriots defensive front had a good night against the Panthers, with Dominique Easley and Jerod Mayo standing out.