Monday, November 16, 2009
Bill Belichick made by far the biggest decision of the game last night. He decided to go for 4th down on his own 28 yard line. The Pats didn't get it and essentially they were screwed. After the game the entire world stated that this was the worst decision in Belichick's coaching career that it was a colossal blunder, etc. etc. etc. But when you look at it, it just might not have been that bad of a decision. Here were his three options.
A) Punt and hope the Colts can't drive 70+ yards in 2 minutes with a timeout.
B) Miss the First Down and hope your defense can man up from 30 yards
C) Get the First Down and Win
Before we stick approximate percentages on those options lets do a bit of analysis on the Colts offense. The Colts had 4 prior touchdown drives. Each drive went at least 79 yards and each lasted under 3:28 seconds. The 4 drives went an average of 82 yards in 2 minutes and 35 seconds. But its actually worse than that. Two of the previous three Colts possessions were 79 yard touchdown drives, one lasting 2:04 and the other just 1:49. Neither drive required the utilization of a timeout. Punting the ball away is asking your defense to not do something it could not do 2 of the last 3 times. The lone stop of the past three possessions the Patriots made was a first play interception.
Meanwhile going for the first down you are putting the ball in the hands of a former MVP and by far the stronger side of your team. You are asking him to pick up just 2 yards to finish the game. The Patriots offense had dominated the entire game. Sometimes you can't just say here's what the typical football decision is go with it.
I think if you conservatively say that there was a 50% chance the Pats pick up the first down and conservatively say that Peyton Manning had just a 50% chance of driving the Colts 70 yards in 2 minutes than the numbers still actually stack in Belichick's favor.
Get the First Down: 100%
Miss It: Some percentage > 0%
Overall Go For It Percentage: 50+%
Essentially what I'm saying in the above percentage is that if you get it you win. If you don't, you have some percent chance of actually stopping the Colts, that certain percent puts the overall moves chance to win at above 50/50. It's either 50% chance to win or give your defense 44 more yards to work with which may not even help much given how shitty the defense is playing. The more and more I think about it, I think he made the right decision. It just didn't work out. Blame Kevin Faulk for not catching the ball cleanly.
~Defending Bill Belichick makes me want to vomit