It’s official, the Patriots are in everyone’s head.
The reigning Super Bowl champions dominated again Sunday, earning a workmanlike 27-10 win over overmatched Washington, but forget about Tom Brady’s 299 passing yards and two touchdown passes or the fact that Julian Edelman and LeGarrette Blount each found the end zone before the Redskins got off their second play of the afternoon.
This game was in Foxborough so in between jamming radio frequencies and bugging the locker rooms, Bill Belichick’s now infamous cheating consigliere, Ernie Adams, had figured out a way to turn the coin toss into a David Blaine trick.
A number of media outlets figured out before the game that the Patriots had won 19 of their last 25 coin tosses coming in, a rate that has been declared virtually impossible when measured against the laws of 50-50 probability. In fact CBS Sports did the numbers crunching and came up with the odds of that happening of 0.0073 percent or less than three quarters of one percent.
So you guessed it, after Miami won the toss last week against the Pats, the Redskins obviously went out and did it again Sunday.
Conspiracy theory over right?
Not so fast. Those who enjoy tying themselves into a logic pretzel could easily explain that.
Aware that he had been outed, Adams simply went Burt Wonderstone on us and made himself disappear. When the heat goes away, the Pats will be back to their old shenanigans.
Winning the toss has always been very important to Belichick, who generally prefers to defer at the start of games in the hopes of delivering a one-two punch as the second quarter bridges into the third.
A late Brady drive before intermission, coupled with getting the football first in the second half, can and often has ripped out the heart of the opposition.
Of course the weather or the opponent can always change Belichick’s mind and the coach loves minutiae like this so he even explained his coin toss philosophy to the Boston Globe.
“It’s one of the things we discuss prior to the game,” Belichick told the newspaper. “We try to do what’s best for that particular game, for that particular situation. … Sometimes we actually withhold that decision until we see what the actual field conditions are for that particular game like last Thursday night, though the Dolphins won the toss and deferred. Games that are weather games, that could affect our decision too.”
“(It can come down to) how you want to start the game,” Belichick continued. “What your offense is, what the defensive game plan is. Maybe not the first play, but in general, here’s how we want to start the game. Maybe that affects it. There can be a lot of factors, so we try to consider them all and try to do what’s best.”
It’s really not brain surgery.
The best-case scenario for most coaches would be deferring, getting a three-and-out and having that first second-half possession in the hip pocket. Teams who play good defense certainly think that way but if your playing Aaron Rodgers, maybe you don’t want to give the MVP the football or if it’s an outdoor game in windy conditions, choosing the right side of the field for the fourth quarter is paramount.
In windy Minneapolis on Sunday Mike Zimmer deferred after winning the overtime toss, in order to take the wind advantage away from Greg Zuerlein, who already has booted fields goals of 61 and 53 yards with the wind. The strategy worked as the Vikings’ defense forced a three-and-out, got a good punt return from Marcus Sherels and won it on a Blair Walsh 40-yard field goal.
Strategy off the coin toss, though, is mildly interesting and nothing more.
So while others are scouring the itineraries of David Copperfield and Criss Angel to see if they spent much time in Foxborough, the rest of us are more mesmerized by how Belichick’s team is 8-0 and has scored in 31 straight quarters despite an offensive line so beset with injuries they would have trouble earning playing time for Steve Addazio in Chestnut Hill.
That’s the real mindfreak.
— John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jfmcmullen — Also catch John this season on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for the NFL Wraparound on ESPN South Jersey.
Also check @JFMcMullen on Twitter for John’s upcoming appearances on YAHOO! Sports Radio, FOX Sports Radio, YAHOO! Sports Radio Indiana, Omaha’s The Zone, Mobile’s WNSP, Baltimore’s 105.7 The Fan, 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, The Score 1260 in Syracuse, Sirius’ Mad Dog Sports Radio, ESPN 1530 in Cincinnati, TSN 1290 in Winnipeg, TSN 690 in Montreal and WNSR in Nashville.