Will Bill Belichick's decision to essentially let the clock run out before the end of the first half when his team had the ball in the Patriots' stunning Week 17 loss to the Miami Dolphins undermine his already struggling offense in the playoffs?
It's a question that has lingered since Sunday and former Pats QB Matt Cassel discussed it on Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast this week (the discussion comes at the six-minute mark and again at 32 minutes in).
"I get why they did it. I totally understand why they said, 'screw this,' " Curran said as he talked about the reaction he'd gotten from fans who were critical of the move in which the Patriots coach didn't conserve time with his team tied with Miami at 10-10 at the half.
Was it a vote of no-confidence in the offense?
"No," said Cassel. "Every situation that's talked about and discussed by Bill Belichick and when he makes those decisions, you usually don't second guess them. And by the time you go in on Monday you say, everybody can have their opinion about it, but it was the decision made and you just move on. It's not like one of those things that lingers on and you go, 'They got no confidence in us...' "
Curran pointed out that the touchdown New England gave up the previous week in the final seconds of the half against the Buffalo Bills - after the Pats had failed to convert on a fourth-and-1 at the 50 - could've played a role in the decision. Belichick didn't want a repeat of that.
"They've only had one drive since Baltimore [the 37-20 Week 9 loss to the Ravens] that was a legitimate pre-halftime drive," Curran said. "Everything else was recovered fumbles and kicked field goals."
Confidence or not, after the loss relegated New England to wild-card weekend for the first time in 10 years, the message is clear now. Win the final home game of the season or go home.
Hear more from Curran and Cassel on what the Pats' wild-card opponent, the Tennessee Titans, do well on both sides of the ball, how coach Mike Vrabel and defensive coordinator Dean Pees' familiarity with the Patriots could work to Tennessee's advantage and why Tom Brady might have regressed against Miami in this latest podcast, presented by CVS Health, which drops every Tuesday and Thursday as a part of the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.