Sunday, October 17, 2010

Let's Second Guess Bill Belichick

The Patriots won a great game today against the Baltimore Ravens.  Coming back from a 20-10 deficit, the Pats tied the game, and had a chance to win it at the end of regulation.  They had 4th down and 1 from Baltimore's  44 yard line, with 4 seconds on the clock, and called timeout.  

Do you a) bring in Stephen Gostkowski to attempt a 62 yard field goal for the win?  or b) throw a Hail Mary?   Now, Gostkowski's career long is 53 yards, and he did have the wind at his back here.   I think you kick the field goal, but by doing so, I guess you risk a block/runback.  Also, by throwing the Hail Mary, you give yourself the opportunity to draw a pass interference penalty.  What say ye, the readers?

The Pats went for the Hail Mary, had a legitimate chance to make a play, but failed.  They eventually won in OT, after a key field position reversal coming off of Zoltan Mesko's punt from inside his own 15 yard line - a 65 yard boomer that put Baltimore back near their own 20.

Another fast fact that Phil Simms mentioned:  Deion Branch, returning to the Patriots after four years in Seattle, had kept his condo down the street from Gillette Stadium the entire time he was gone - but he sold it two months ago, and was then traded back to the Patriots last week!  Bad beat!



Transor Belichick said...

Missed field goal results in possession at the spot of the kick, not the line of scrimmage, so throwing it up was the right call.

Kid Dynamite said...

Transor - it was the last play of the game. so that's not a factor to consider!

TZ said...

Eh, good point. Okay, how about... chance of drawing pass interference to improve field position for the FG since the game can't end on a def penalty?

andrew said...

Throw the Hail Mary. If the kick is short (good possibility from 62 yards) you have the possibility of a Ravens run back. Since the field goal team is made up of almost all blocking type players (no speed) its easier to return a field goal attempt then it is to intercept the jump ball pass and return that for a TD.

Didn't the Ravens run back a long field goal attempt a couple of years ago 109 yards for a TD?

EconomicDisconnect said...

I was very confused and it seemed the Pats kicker was confused as well! I say nothing really to lose by trying to kick the FG! They did manage to win the game but I agree a FG should have been attempted at the end of regulation.

At least Branch can run more than just go routes!

Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

There is probably a better chance of a favorable outcome on the hail mary than in kicing a 62 yard field goal which this guy is simply not going to make.

LORD BK said...

Hail Mary was the right call. Those long kicks have to booted quite hard, and usually have a lower trajectory, thus more apt to be blocked and run back. Also, if by chance it was blocked, AND the Pats commit a penalty (after the block), then the Ravens would have gotten one more play. I think the correct order of choices would be, Hail Mary, kneel down, and FG attempt.

Anonymous said...

Kicking a 62 yard field goal is not a great choice in that situation, particularyl as you noted Gostkowski's career long is 53 yards. 9 extra yards at that length is no small increase.

What you also didn't note is that Fg attempts that come up short can be returned (see Devin Hester, 2007 vs. NYG). In that situation, the return man has plenty of time amd space between himself and the field goal blocking team to create a long play and possibly a touchdown. Hail Mary was the right call.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn’t this decision be highly based on historical probabilities?

I figure that you’d need these #s: success rate of Hail Marys (TDs or pass interference or other defensive penalty on the play b/c a game can’t end on a defensive penalty), disaster rate on Hail Marys (TD after INT, fumble returned for TD), success rate for uber-long yd FGs kicked outdoors and off grass, disaster rate for blocked FG returned for TD or short FG returned for TD.

Before looking at the numbers, I’d have a hunch that you throw the Hail Mary. Sure the success rate is low, but the disaster scenario (Pats actually losing the game on that play) is probably close to 0% probability on a Hail Mary, as defenses try to knock balls down on Hail Marys instead of trying to intercept and return for a TD.

I’ve emailed the guy at to see if he has historical #s.

Transor Z said...

@anon at 3:35 pm:

Remember too that drawing a def pass interference call is "success."