Yesterday while I was enjoying the Browns bye week, I caught the end of the Bengals game including the hail Mary and eventual loss in overtime to the Ravens. I couldn’t help but hate the way that one ended for the Bengals even though their loss was what I needed to see as a Browns fan. Quite simply, I couldn’t stand the fact that Marvin Lewis’ Bengals decided to kick an extra point on the last play of the game to tie it at 17 and take it to overtime.
Andy Dalton was having an awful day for the most part. He finished the game 24 for 51 with two touchdowns and three interceptions. His QB rating was an abysmal 52.2. Can you imagine what his QB rating would have been if he hadn’t completed a 51 yard hail Mary TD to A.J. Green on the last play?1 So, why in the world, would you take your chances on taking your team into overtime where you have to drive the field to score, when you have an opportunity to win it from the two yard line?
The good news for Browns fans is that I think Rob Chudzinski is the kind of NFL head coach that would go for two in that scenario and it makes me happy. I can’t guarantee it, of course, but it seems to me that anyone who goes for it on fourth down as willingly as Chud seems to, would also understand the benefits of controlling your own destiny.
Bill Barnwell from Grantland is notorious for killing coaches who are too passive. It’s like these coaches make safe choices in order to keep themselves from getting into trouble. They make these “safe” choices that actually seem to defy statistics and then the moves that they deemed safe end up losing them games and ultimately getting them fired. Except for Marvin Lewis, of course. He seems to survive everything. Barnwell doesn’t appear to address the final play of the game, two-point conversion opportunity, but given the Bengals’ circumstances on the road in a game where their starting quarterback had thrown three interceptions, I would have gone for it. I don’t know what the advanced math says on it, but I’m guessing there aren’t a ton of examples in the sample, sadly.
Even if my team fails in that situation in three straight games, I would defend my head coach’s decision to try and win it there. I would take that chance as a fan almost every single time. Plus, think about this. The Bengals ended up going for it on fourth and two from the Ravens 33-yard line in overtime. Sure, the downside risk of that play wasn’t in instantaneous loss, but it still seems relevant. Why shouldn’t a team go for two on a chance to win the whole thing from the two-yard line in regulation on the road when the team’s offense hasn’t been playing well all game?
Am I on an island? Is anyone with me?
- Yes, I could figure it out, but I’m not going to. [↩]