Marvin Lewis Tried a Field Goal Down By 4 With 3 Minutes Left

Marvin Lewis chose to kick a field goal with 3 minutes remaining, and his team trailing by 4 points, from the Miami 23 yard line, facing a 4th down and 5 yards to go. Of course, Rich Gannon the announcer immediately said it was the right call. I doubt Rich Gannon the quarterback would have agreed.

This isn’t second guessing. This was a horrible decision. But to check my instincts, I’m going to go through some of the historical numbers to get a sense. Before getting to the numbers, the mental equation is basically:

The chances of converting and scoring to take a lead, while still having a chance to come back even with a failure;

vs. the chances of coming back to get a field goal (if you make it) or get a touchdown (if you miss).

In poker terms, there are multiple outs. Lewis, though, gave up a pretty strong one, the direct path to a touchdown, without needing a defensive stop, right away.

So let’s quickly go through it.

My instinct was about 40% chance of converting. Wow, that number is almost exactly 40% (62 0f 150) since 2007. We’ll take that 41.3% at getting the first down.

Then, I’ll use the Advanced NFL Stats Game Probabilities for the rest of the scenarios.

Some of those conversions would automatically result in a touchdown, about 5% is a good estimate, with the remaining 36% of conversions still needing to score after a first down.

The chances of winning up 3 at the 3 minute mark: 75%

Chances of winning down 4 at (approximately) the 16, after a conversion, at 3 minute mark: 51%

Chances of winning, with Miami having 1st and 10 at own 23: 16%

Multiply all those by our percentages of converting 41% of time, and Cincinnati had about a 31.6% of winning by going for it.

Now to the Field Goal Path:

Chances of winning down by 1 after a make: 18.5% (That’s by taking both 1 and 2 point deficits)

Chances of winning down by 4 after a miss: 16% same as above.

Finally, the chances of making the field goal, going by the last five years from exactly that distance, are 83%.

Multiply those out, and the Bengals chances were about 18.1% by kicking.


Conclusion: Marvin Lewis cost his team dearly. About 13.5% chance of winning. That may not sound like a lot to you, but it’s huge. He almost cut it in half. You may be shocked to see that the chances of winning weren’t that much better being down by 1-2 instead of 4-5, but that’s because coaches are conservative and play for field goals. When they need touchdowns, they act more optimally. Well, unless they have three minutes left.

[photo via US Presswire]


Because you want to see it first!

Like and follow The Big Lead today!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Because you want to see it first.

Like and follow The Big Lead today!