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Taking Points Off The Board

Mill Woods

Posted on November 26, 2018 08:10

1 user

With five weeks to go in the NFL regular season, it would seem that this is no time for teams to pass pass up points, and yet NFL coaches are regularly doing just that.

Just a few weeks ago, the division title was within sight for the Carolina Panthers, but suddenly, they are in a precarious position. The Panthers needed to win a game or two before taking on the division-leading New Orleans Saints in one of their two contests at the end of the season. But after two straight losses, the Panthers are likely relegated to a tight race for one of two NFC wild cards. In both of the Panthers' close losses, they passed up easy kick attempts that likely would have resulted in points.

Sunday, the Panthers' offense drove the ball well on their first possession against the Seattle Seahawks.  But head coach Ron Rivera opted to go for it on fourth down, passing on a short field gold attempt. As luck would have it, at the end of the day, the Panthers ended up losing to the Seahawks by three points.

In Week 11, head Rivera passed on the chance to send their game with the Detroit Lions into overtime. After the Panthers scored a late touchdown, Rivera opted to go for the two-point conversion and the win. The play failed.

The Panthers are certainly not the only team passing on points, and these coaching decisions do not always result in a loss.

The Minnesota Vikings also passed on a short field goal attempt during their Sunday night showdown with Green Bay, leaving open the possibility that the Packers might have scored 10 points and tied the game. The final result worked out fine for the Vikings, but it could have gone badly.

With about five minutes to go and the score 24-14, the Vikings passed up a short field goal in favor of a chance to convert a fourth-and-two. The play failed, meaning that the Packers did not need two touchdowns. Behind by only 10, the Packers were able to get the needed field goal, but were unable to stop the Viking offense from running out the clock. The final score - 24-17 - buries the issue in the minds of most fans, who usually only complain when a loss results.

Never admitting they can't have it both ways, fans and pundits love to second-guess these coaching decisions. Perhaps what they love even more is a head coach who 'shows confidence' in his team by rolling the dice on fourth-down tries and two-point-conversion attempts. When these gambles succeed, coaches are labeled ingenious. When they fail? Games are lost, and teams sometimes sit out the playoffs.

After the exciting matches of Thanksgiving weekend, I feel that three divisions are now settled. The Rams, Saints and Patriots have all but locked up their division titles, leading their nearest opponents by at least three games.  The Bears and Vikings also distanced themselves in the race for the NFC North title and one of the NFC wild cards.  The other five divisions are still in play, but Week 13 will surely narrow the field.

 

Mill Woods

Posted on November 26, 2018 08:10

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