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Falcons Coach Mike Smith Knew Saints Kicker Garrett Hartley Would Choke in Overtime

Garrett Hartley might want to not answer any requests to show up in the coach’s office today. His miss of a 29-yard field goal yesterday in overtime cost the Saints a division game at home against their main competition for the title, and he has already missed three makeable kicks this season.

While some may criticize Sean Payton, this is one case where I cannot. Kickers made 97% of their kicks from that range in 2009, and you cannot risk turnovers and running more plays when your chances are so high if you just go ahead and kick it.

One guy, though, was a prophet. According to Pete Prisco, Smith was walking the sidelines telling his players that Hartley would miss. Well, of course, Smith was saying that. This is hindsight bias. We didn’t get these articles espousing the valiant coach who predicted a miss on the 97% of times when it didn’t come true. I’m going to guess there are no coaches who are on the sidelines in overtime saying “you know boys, it’s been fun, but there’s no way we win this one.” Now, if Mike “The Prophet” Smith was overheard saying “we’re going to leave Lance Moore completely uncovered on this one, just watch,” we may have something here.

Prisco goes on to say that the Falcons are the best team in the NFC South, talking about how they dominated the game and gave the Saints “a big boy beating”, and that the game “shouldn’t have been as close as it was.” Now, I didn’t watch all of this particular game, so I am just relying on the play by play and game records, but I don’t see “big boy beating.” At the point at which Hartley missed the kick, after both teams had one possession in overtime, the Saints had more total yards. The Falcons had run more plays because their strategy against New Orleans, as most teams try to do, is keep the ball out of Brees’ hands by playing ball control. The Falcons did take advantage of the miss and run it at a tired Saints defense in overtime. The Saints, though, averaged almost 10 yards a pass, were -3 in turnovers (which helps explain the difference in number of plays run), and still should have won the game on Hartley’s kick. Prisco closes the article with a miss from 29-yards out when he goes to this: “There will be no parades, but just this message to Hartley: Shank-you very much.”

We have the early leader in the bad football pun contest.  [images via Getty]

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