The Patriots earned a 14-10 win over the Bills on “Monday Night Football” in what was one of the most run-heavy offensive performances the NFL has seen in recent history.
Thanks to consistent 25-35 mph winds with gusts up to 50 mph, New England opted to pass the ball just three times total against Buffalo. The Pats focused on the running game instead, running on a whopping 94 percent of the plays and generating 222 rushing yards on 46 carries.
As surprising as the Patriots’ all-run offense was, perhaps we should have seen it coming. Why? Look no further than the mask coach Bill Belichick wore before the game.
Yep. That’s a Navy mask.
Belichick is a long-time fan of Navy, as his father served as an assistant coach with the team and taught at the Academy for more than 30 years. Belichick grew up in Annapolis and attended Annapolis High School, so his ties to the Midshipmen are deep.
Still, it would seem that his choice of mask for Monday night’s game is no accident. Why? Because Navy has been one of the most run-heavy offenses in college football for decades, as it runs the triple-option offense.
Since 2003, Navy has never finished lower than fifth in run play percentage and has been college football’s most run-dominant offense nine times. That’s tied for the most in that span with Army, another triple-option service academy.
Navy has run the ball at least 76.8 percent of the time during that same span. More often, it has eclipsed the 80 percent threshold and, occasionally, even the 85 percent mark.
Belichick is well aware of those numbers and the legacy of Navy’s dominant run game. While the Patriots didn’t run the triple-option on Monday night, they certainly brought a Navy-like approach to the game. And that could have been why Belichick wore the mask.
Unfortunately, Belichick wasn’t asked about his mask during his postgame news conference, so we can’t say for sure that his decision was intentional.
But it sure felt like it was.