Questionable Decision Making
Taking a look at analytics and football
By: Derek Dietz @OriginalMrDietz
The Chiefs scored in the 4th quarter with 7:25 on the clock to go up 30-23. A simple extra point puts them up 8 points. This hypothetically means they can’t lose, and that likely they will get the ball back with time to spare. This sets them up for worst-case scenario, kick a game winning field goal or worst-worst case- going to overtime.
The Chiefs went for 2 to try and go up by nine points, but the conversion was not successful. Score: Chiefs 30, Raiders 23. I found this odd at the time, but my friends supported the call. My belief was perhaps they had too many hard seltzers. I am firmly in the other camp- go up by 8 and put all the pressure on the other team. However, the Chiefs did walk away with a win so it doesn’t quite matter.
The Raiders get the subsequent kick-off and execute an efficient seven play, 75-yard drive culminating in a 48-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams. Score: Las Vegas 29, Kansas City 30. The Raiders are losing. Not winning. Losing. Again, a simple extra point ties the game. Another consideration is that there is 4:27 left in the game. This is the NFL; you must have a little faith in your defense, or the game is already lost.
Shockingly, the Raiders opt to go for 2. As we all know they came up short to keep the score at KC 30- LV 29. Now, they did not have to go for 2. Perhaps there was some ‘go big or go home’ competitiveness going on, but I found that call to be exceedingly questionable. Even more so than Andy going for 2 the drive before. Even had they converted the 2-point try, going up 31-29 makes the Chiefs drive about 50 yards and kick a game winning field goal with a backup off the street kicker.
I understand modern analytics, and I understand coaches have a feel for game flow. This decision by head coach Josh McDaniels dropped the Raiders to 1-4 and last place in the AFC West. In a post-game presser, HC Josh McDaniels said “They had momentum, we had a play we felt really good about and we were trying to put some pressure on them.”
Whelp. Backfire. The Chiefs’ next drive stalled out after 5 plays and 23 yards and 2:36 on the clock. Just think if the Raiders were tied and not losing. It changes the whole dynamic of the game.
Our good friend Brandon Staley almost cost his team another game by going for it on 4th & 2, with 1:14 to play, up 2 against the Browns. The pass was incomplete and the only thing that saved his bacon was a missed Browns field goal from 54 yards out. This play calling led to some critical tweets, namely from star WR Keenan Allen. Despite this scrutiny, ESPN’s computer models agreed with going for it- with a win probability of 84% versus 79%.
Bottom line is that the Chiefs-Raiders was a close one, and decided by Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow colliding on a freak play. It may be time for coaches to question analytics when it comes to play calls with the game on the line. I do not feel the slight advantage of the two point try is worth it in most scenarios.
In closing, I hope the next time they kick the extra point.