Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Don't Settle For A Field Goal

One of the things that drives me nuts is when a team is driving the ball at the end of the game and then stop going for the end zone when all they need is a field goal. Field goals are not exactly gimmees, and there are lots of things that can go wrong.

Three perfect examples:

Boise State down by one point to TCU and they are moving the ball just fine with less than a minute to go. They get inside field goal range, and then stop going for the end zone. Instead they settle for the field goal. Result: kicker misses, they lose by one point, miss out on a BCS game, maybe even the title game, and play against a woeful 6-6 Arizona State team in the Las Vegas Bowl.

In overtime all Georgia needs is a field goal to win the game after Michigan State had turned the bowl over during their possession. Rather than trying to score a touch down, or even trying to get the ball as close as possible for the kicker, they instead settle for the field goal. Result: Kicker misses, and they end up losing in triple overtime after their last field goal attempt is blocked.

With two minutes remaining Stanford takes possession of the ball with the score tied against Oklahoma State. Stanford is driving the ball just fine and have it inside the 25 with 52 seconds on the clock. They have just covered 50 yards in a minute and still have all three time outs remaining. So do they keep trying to put the ball in the end zone in order to completely ice the game? No, instead they settle for the field goal. Result: Kicker misses, and they end up losing in overtime, after another missed field goal. Now Oklahoma State does settle for a field goal, but it's from the one yard line, and I still think they should have gone for it at that point. I think the football gods were on their side at this point because Stanford had settled.

The argument for settling for a field goal is that the offense could fumble it or the quarterback could throw an interception. But the odds of that happening are much less than the odds of something going wrong during the field goal attempt. The only reason to settle for the field goal is if you literally don't have the time to go for the end zone. But, if you have time on the clock always go for a touchdown, don't settle for field goals because when you settle bad things happen.

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