Had it worked out any differently, Bill Belichick would live with it until the end of his days.
"The wind, it was a strong wind," Belichick said after his team's 34-31 win. "We just had to keep them out of the end zone, obviously. I just felt like the wind would be an advantage if we could keep them out of the end zone on that first drive. We were able to do that. The wind was significant in the game, it was definitely significant."
Belichick's strategy appeared doomed out of the gate as Manning twice fed the ball to Knowshon Moreno, who barreled for runs of eight and 18 yards to the New England 46-yard line.
"I felt like there was about a 20-yard difference in field position to just attempt a field goal," Belichick said Monday, per The Boston Globe.
Belichick acknowledged he held a long conversation with his captains, helping them to understand why New England would hand the ball to Manning.
"To tell you the truth, the whole situation was a little bit confusing because, when I told the captains (to take the wind), there was a little bit of a question of, are you talking about deferring," Belichick said. "I was like, 'No, we're not deferring, we're taking the wind, period.' 'Well, is that if they take the ball?' 'No, it's not if they take the ball.'
"We actually, with the captains, had a little bit of a conversation that they had right what I wanted to do," Belichick said, "because it was a little bit of an, obviously, unusual type of situation."
Belichick would have caught major heat had Manning rolled Denver down the field for a game-winning touchdown, but history suggests the coach did his homework.
NFL Media research notes that, in the 33 overtime games played under the new rules, just five have ended on the first possession with a touchdown.