Bill Belichick used a rules ‘loophole’ to kill clock against the Jets

Andy Hart
October 22, 2019 - 1:16 am

Not quite midway through the fourth quarter Monday night in New York the Patriots had a 33-0 lead and were essentially running the clock out on their blowout victory over the division-rival Jets.

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With 11:13 on the game clock, Tom Brady’s third-and-9 pass to Brandon Bolden picked up just 7 yards.

That left fourth-and-2 from the Jets 33.

New England lined up in punt formation but let the play clock expire in an effort to not only kill clock, but possibly give rookie punter Jake Bailey more room to work in the plus-50 situation.

As is so often the case, New York declined the penalty. The clock started again and again New England let it run, right up until Brandon Bolden was flagged for what certainly looked like an intentional false start penalty from his right wing position.

The Jets again declined the penalty. The clock began to run once again, this time Bailey booted the ball to a fair catch by New York returner Braxton Berrios at his own 14.

The three fourth-down plays allowed the Patriots to shave nearly 90 seconds off the clock, which is probably why Belichick was shown smirking on the sideline after the somewhat strange series of events. Afterwards he explained that there was no “gamesmanship” at hand, just he and his team playing by the rules.

“No. It was just the way the rules are set up we were able to run quite a bit of time off the clock without really having to do anything,” Belichick said. “So, that’s probably a loophole that will be closed and probably should be closed. But right now it’s open.”

And no one takes advantage of a loophole in the rules like Belichick.

If the NFL does close the loophole in the future, it wouldn’t be the first time that Belichick’s Patriots have been the impetus for such rules changes.

Related: Patriots at Jets thumbs up, thumbs down: Tom Brady, defense cruise to dominant victory