Some Texans players and coaches are having a hard time dealing with their 27-20 loss on Sunday. Yet despite focusing on Houston's myriad issues moving the football, executing reads in the pass game, and keeping Tom Brady off the field, head coach Bill O'Brien and numerous players are zeroing in on one single play: A 19-yard reception from Rob Gronkowski in the final minute of the first half. Despite replay showing a questionable catch at best, O'Brien elected not to call timeout, allowing the Pats to quick-snap the ball before the referees could initiate a replay review.
When asked after the game, O'Brien defensively responded, "That's not my job to call a timeout to make [the referees'] job easier." But while he may technically be correct, a timeout could have taken an eventual Tom Brady TD pass off the board and held the game much closer at halftime. And while technically O'Brien correctly pointed out that he couldn't challenge the play because it occurred within the last two minutes of the half, referee Tony Corrente asserted that the catch would have been reviewed had there been time:
Referee Tony Corrente to pool reporter on Rob Gronkowski catch: 'The situation was that New York did get back to us. However, unfortunately they didn't get to the game officials on the field until after the play had already started.'
For his part, Texans DB Aaron Colvin seemed pretty sure it was not a catch: "That's BS, in my opinion...I don't think he caught that ball. I think that was the big play in the game, but it is what it is.
Like his head coach, Colvin also got heated about the situation and insinuated that the referees in New England are paid to favor the Patriots. "We got to get that ball and make it unquestionable. It's tough man, but I mean we're playing in New England. So, you know what that means."
Yet despite O'Brien's insistence to the contrary and Colvin's certainty, it definitely is the Texans' responsibility to call timeout and request a review in that situation. Would the catch have been overturned had it gone to review? Possibly, but not certainly. More importantly, however, O'Brien's job is to set his players up in the best possible position to win games. He clearly failed that duty on Sunday, no matter how you slice the catch itself.