Bill O'Brien says in hindsight he should have called timeout to let play get reviewed

BySarah Barshop ESPN logo
Monday, September 10, 2018

HOUSTON -- On Monday, Texanscoach Bill O'Brien clarified his postgame comments when he said, "It's not my job to call a timeout to make their [the officials'] job easier," to stop the game and give the NFL a chance to review a catch near the end of the first half.

With less than two minutes left in the first half of Sunday's 27-20 loss to the New England Patriots, quarterback Tom Brady threw a deep pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski that was ruled a completion for 28 yards. Gronkowski caught the pass in double coverage but went to the ground with the ball.

According to the pool report after the game, referee Tony Corrente said the Patriots got off the next play before New York could call for a review. Because the clock was under two minutes, O'Brien could not challenge the play.

"The situation was that New York did get back to us," Corrente said. "However, unfortunately, they didn't get to the game officials on the field until after the play had already started.

"You can't challenge after the snap."

O'Brien said he thought about using a timeout to give New York the chance to make the call to review the play, but ultimately didn't want to stop the clock for the Patriots in case the call was not overturned.

"I think the downside to me at that point was, if I take a timeout here and it is a catch, it gives Brady, Josh [McDaniels] and Bill [Belichick] a little bit more time to figure out what they want to do next," O'Brien said. "And I felt like I didn't want to do that. I wanted to let the clock run down and that's what's I decided to do. Right, wrong or indifferent, that's what I decided to do."

O'Brien said from the field -- and later from what he has seen on the coaches film -- it looks like Gronkowski made the catch.

"He went up, he caught it, he kept both hands underneath it," O'Brien said. "Now relative to some TV angles and some other video angles that I've seen, maybe it was questionable. But from the coaches vantage point on the coaches tape, it looked like a catch to me."

Five plays later, Brady threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Dorsett to put the Patriots up 21-6.

"I do realize that I can take a timeout [in that situation]," O'Brien said. "That was my decision based on what I was told from upstairs and then what I saw from the sideline and that's how I decided to handle it. Hindsight being 20/20 with the benefit of eight different angles, surely I would have taken a timeout to see if they would at least buzz down to take a look at the play.

"But they didn't and I didn't do that and that's exactly what happened, and we ended up giving up a touchdown at the end of the half that didn't help our cause."

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