Coaches love to kick field goals. They love to play for them, and they love to plan for them. When teams fall behind, field goals become less frequent as coaches are pressed into action. However, that is not always the case. Coaches still love field goals even when rational strategy dictates you must score more than 3 to come back.
This weekend witnessed plenty of curious decisions. Lovie Smith made a bad decision that worked out regardless, but that doesn’t make the decision correct. Andy Reid and Mike Shanahan both kicked early in the third quarter down big. So what are the worst decisions? This list is limited to those in the second half when teams are trailing, and there was about a 20-way tie for #11, but I had to cut the list somewhere. Sorry for excluding every decision ever by Romeo Crennel but you’ve read enough about him today.
10. Lovie Smith, 33 yard field goal down 19-7, 4th and 5 at Carolina 19, 12:14 left in game. Robbie Gould actually missed the kick, but the Bears came back and won anyway. Here, we have a very manageable distance, and are trailing by a score that needs two touchdowns (which the Bears eventually got thanks to the pick six).
9. Andy Reid, 36 yard field goal, down 24-0, 4th and 5 at Arizona 18, 5:11 left in 3rd Quarter. If you are down big, and you have a manageable fourth down situation, you should be going, period. Throw in that this is not an automatic (Henery did make this one) and it becomes a worse decision. But hey, we got on the board.
8. Andy Reid, 33 yard field goal, down 24-7, 4th and 6 at Atlanta 15, 11:23 left in 3rd Quarter. Again, Andy? Well, this was last week, as his defense was getting chewed up by Atlanta and had not stopped them yet. The only viable reason to settle for 3 in this situation is if you knew your defense would suddenly stop them cold turkey. As it turned out, the Eagles would have needed 31 points to win this game. That’s only 8 more field goals.
7. Bill Belichick, 53 yard field goal, down 20-9, 4th and 10 at Arizona 35, 6:50 remaining in game. Even purported geniuses get on the list. This one may not seem as obvious, given that it was 10 yards to go. A couple of things, though. Time remaining, and the fact that this is not an automatic kick by any means. Also, scoring two touchdowns is a way better path to victory than long field goal, touchdown, 2 point conversion, and another field goal. As it turns out, the Pats got the touchdown but not the 2 points, and lost on Gostkowski’s late miss.
6. Mike Munchak, 24 yard field goal, down 28-10, 4th and goal from 6, 9:20 remaining. Kicking down 18 is like hitting on 18. You get the make, and you still need things to go right, including a 2 point conversion, just to tie it. Add in that this was on the goal line and there was only 9 minutes left, and Munchak pretty much cut his chances drastically here.
5. Jason Garrett, 39 yard field goal, down 24-3, 4th and 6 from Chicago 22, 2:51 left in 3rd quarter. Here’s where we go from WTF, to WTMFFFFFFF. These top five are your clear winners (losers?). If hitting on 18 is bad, hitting on 21 is worse, and I bet Garrett has actually done that at a blackjack table judging by his coaching decisions.
Manageable 4th down, down by 21. What good does 18 do you? Yeah, let’s play for the FG, TD, TD+2PT, FG, then try to get to overtime angle.
4. Aaron Kromer, 21 yard field goal, down 30-14, 4th and 3 at Washington 3, 1:54 left in 3rd quarter. It was 3 yards to a touchdown and you have Drew Brees. As it turns out, the Redskins defense, also, not good. I mean, this was a dreadful decision.
3. Chuck Pagano, 47 yard field goal, down 28-6, 4th and 10 from NY Jets 29, 14:45 left in the 3rd quarter. When you have a chance to cut it from 22 to 19, you’ve got to do it.
2. Andy Reid, 40 yard field goal, down 24-3, 4th and 5 from Arizona 22, 0:06 left in 3rd quarter. Andy Reid gets on the list twice for the same game. This one came a bit later, and took it from 21 to 18 with one quarter remaining. Why would you choose to enter by down more than 17 with one quarter left, when you had a viable alternative? Baffling.
1. Marvin Lewis, 41 yard field goal, down 17-13, 4th and 5 from Miami 23, 3:05 left in 4th quarter. Marvin Lewis still holds the crown, and I wrote about it separately already. Still looks dumb with the passage of time.
[photo via US Presswire]