Belichick's 4th and 1 decision

Bellhorn

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There has been some discussion of this in the Goat thread, but I figured it was interesting enough to warrant its own thread. With so much uncertainty in the probabilities of the various events, attempting to pin down a specific win probability differential really serves little purpose, other than to give the 538 guys a chance to show off their math chops (or for Bill Barnwell to try to do this and fail) - but sometimes you can get a pretty good sense of the correct answer just by looking at a rough outline of the equation.

Unfortunately, this is not one of those cases - it is simply too close to call. Here is how it looks:

Win probability following the fourth down conversion attempt:
(1-p(Success)) * p(TD) * p(2-pt) * p(OT) + p(Success) * {(p(TD1) * [p(2-pt) * p(OT) + (1-p(2-pt)) * p(FG)] + (1-p(TD1)) * p(TD)}

Win probability following field goal attempt:

p(FG make) * p(TD) + (1-p(FG make)) * p(TD) * p(2-pt) * p(OT)

where
p(Success) = probability of converting the 4th down
p(TD1) = probability of scoring a TD on the drive following the successful 4th down
p(2-pt) = probability of making the 2-point conversion (duh)
p(OT) = probability of winning the game after the game has been tied, even if there is regulation time left.
p(TD) = probability of outscoring the opponent by a TD over the remainder of regulation
p(FG) = probability of outscoring the opponent by a FG over the remainder of regulation
p(FG make) = probability of making the current field-goal attempt

Obviously, we have to make a bunch of simplifying assumptions even to get to this point. (For example, we are omitting the fact brought up in the Goat thread that in some cases, two subsequent field goals are enough for a win.)

The variables that are most difficult to estimate are the ones that involve the total remainder of regulation time, so rather than make a direct estimate, I like to solve for these at the break-even point, and see if the value seems clearly too high or too low. (And then see how the breakeven point changes as the values for the other input probabilities are changed.)

For example, if we estimate that p(Success) = 0.6, p(TD1) = 0.8, p(2-pt) = 0.4 (because of the shitty OL play), p(OT) = 0.4 (because in some scenarios, the opponent will end up with a greater number of possessions in regulation after the game has been tied), p(FG make) = 0.9, and p(FG) = 2 * p(TD), then the break-even point for p(TD) is approximately 0.3 - values higher than this favor the FG attempt, lower values favor the 4th-down conversion attempt. If this breakeven value had been something like 0.8, we could be pretty confident that going for it was the right call; if it had been 0.05, it would be strong evidence that Belichick was wrong. As it is, it falls squarely in the range of plausibility, so given the coarse nature of this approach, we can't say much one way or another.

The basic intuition is that you get some small amount of win equity from going for the 4th down (probably around 10%) thanks to the possibility of tying the game on this drive. This is offset by the fact that kicking an immediate FG makes a potential TD on a subsequent drive more valuable. The probability of this subsequent TD is low, meaning that this overall pro-FG effect is low, but then again so is the threshold that has to be cleared.

Please let me know if I made any egregious mistakes in setting this up (or if you get a significantly different result using different probability estimates). Even though this analysis doesn't give us a definite answer, it does suggest (IMO) that those who had a strong opinion one way or the other were probably incorrect.
 

BigSoxFan

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Sorry to follow up your long well thought out post with something short and simple. I liked going to for it, I abhorred the play that was called.
This is where I'm at. A slow developing pass play was a horrendous call given how the line performed all game. Of course, even the quick passes weren't working so it may not have mattered.
 

jcd0805

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I thought instantly they should've taken the points, the Broncos offense at that point was stagnant and they had plenty of time to get the ball back and score, which they did, that's what is making this loss so tough for me.
 

SuperManny

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This is where I'm at. A slow developing pass play was a horrendous call given how the line performed all game. Of course, even the quick passes weren't working so it may not have mattered.
This is my stance as well, I'll never be upset by going for it on 4th and 1 but the play call was terrible and I thought the play calling in general during the entire game was uninspiring.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Sorry to follow up your long well thought out post with something short and simple. I liked going to for it, I abhorred the play that was called.
Agreed on both counts. That play call is just awful. Its just a straight gamble that the weakside corner completely bites on the play fake and neglects his assignment and if you gamble wrong you're hosed.

That situation was symptomatic of the dysfunctional state of our offense and how badly we got outcoached in that matchup. Short passing plays - quick outs, quick slants, etc - should be our bread and butter and they completely took it away, to the extent that McD felt the necessity to essentially try a trick play to pick up one yard.

I thought instantly they should've taken the points, the Broncos offense at that point was stagnant and they had plenty of time to get the ball back and score, which they did, that's what is making this loss so tough for me.
Their offense wasn't stagnant though. They were coming off a 10 play, 48 yard drive that killed five minutes and which featured several successful running plays. There was real reason to worry that our defense might have been wearing down at that point and that they might pick up a couple first downs on the next drive, effectively putting us into two minute drill territory.

Meanwhile, this was our first drive all game over 50 yards.
 

wiffleballhero

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Denver could not move the ball, the Pats were having difficulty themselves so the conversion (any of them really) was hardly a lock.

I think you play to win, not just tie the game. For that reason alone, you take the points as fast as you can get them.

If you kick the field goal on the 1st fourth down drive (at 6:03) you then can actually go ahead with a six point TD. As it was they locked themselves into playing for a tie and playing in a way where they were obligated to go for the more difficult 2pt conversion.

They also blocked themselves from being even able to win in regulation.

Say what you want about the fact that the size of the clock cuts both ways, meaning that a FG could come from Denver, but I don't think that is really a valid concern since a field goal from Denver ends the game.

With six minutes left the Pats had to be all in on the D holding up and they needed points to cut out the need for the 2pt conversion.
 

wiffleballhero

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Their offense wasn't stagnant though. They were coming off a 10 play, 48 yard drive that killed five minutes and which featured several successful running plays. There was real reason to worry that our defense might have been wearing down at that point and that they might pick up a couple first downs on the next drive, effectively putting us into two minute drill territory.

Meanwhile, this was our first drive all game over 50 yards.

This is sort of true, but Denver's 48 yard drive was a consequence of a 3-1 stacked line run play where the Pats fully committed to blocking the conversion and had nobody in the second level to make a tackle. It was a really unfortunate play, but hardly a sign that the D was faltering.
 

( . ) ( . ) and (_!_)

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This is sort of true, but Denver's 48 yard drive was a consequence of a 3-1 stacked line run play where the Pats fully committed to blocking the conversion and had nobody in the second level to make a tackle. It was a really unfortunate play, but hardly a sign that the D was faltering.
But we have seen defense after defense wear down in the fourth quarter in Denver. The pats defense was on the field quite a bit early in the game. There was a reasonable expectation that they could have dropped off a cliff and got started to get pushed on their heels at any point in that fourth quarter. It didn't necessarily happen but that doesn't mean the risk shouldn't have factored into the decision making.
 

williams_482

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Denver could not move the ball, the Pats were having difficulty themselves so the conversion (any of them really) was hardly a lock.

I think you play to win, not just tie the game. For that reason alone, you take the points as fast as you can get them.

If you kick the field goal on the 1st fourth down drive (at 6:03) you then can actually go ahead with a six point TD. As it was they locked themselves into playing for a tie and playing in a way where they were obligated to go for the more difficult 2pt conversion.

They also blocked themselves from being even able to win in regulation.

Say what you want about the fact that the size of the clock cuts both ways, meaning that a FG could come from Denver, but I don't think that is really a valid concern since a field goal from Denver ends the game.

With six minutes left the Pats had to be all in on the D holding up and they needed points to cut out the need for the 2pt conversion.
The Patriots needed a touchdown at some point, and they had a better chance of scoring a touchdown facing 4th and 1 from the Denver 16 than they would expect to have if they kick off and force a Denver punt. The potential game tying TD is also substantially more valuable than the FG.

Unless you believe Denver had a negligible chance of doing anything once they get the ball back, going for it on 4th and 1 was absolutely the right call.
 

BigSoxFan

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The Amendola drop really hurt. He catches that and there's a chance that we score before the 2 min warning with all of our timeouts remaining. Could have conceivably kicked it deep, stopped them, and had plenty of time to get in field goal range for the win.
 

Stitch01

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There has been some discussion of this in the Goat thread, but I figured it was interesting enough to warrant its own thread. With so much uncertainty in the probabilities of the various events, attempting to pin down a specific win probability differential really serves little purpose, other than to give the 538 guys a chance to show off their math chops (or for Bill Barnwell to try to do this and fail) - but sometimes you can get a pretty good sense of the correct answer just by looking at a rough outline of the equation.

Unfortunately, this is not one of those cases - it is simply too close to call. Here is how it looks:

Win probability following the fourth down conversion attempt:
(1-p(Success)) * p(TD) * p(2-pt) * p(OT) + p(Success) * {(p(TD1) * [p(2-pt) * p(OT) + (1-p(2-pt)) * p(FG)] + (1-p(TD1)) * p(TD)}

Win probability following field goal attempt:

p(FG make) * p(TD) + (1-p(FG make)) * p(TD) * p(2-pt) * p(OT)

where
p(Success) = probability of converting the 4th down
p(TD1) = probability of scoring a TD on the drive following the successful 4th down
p(2-pt) = probability of making the 2-point conversion (duh)
p(OT) = probability of winning the game after the game has been tied, even if there is regulation time left.
p(TD) = probability of outscoring the opponent by a TD over the remainder of regulation
p(FG) = probability of outscoring the opponent by a FG over the remainder of regulation
p(FG make) = probability of making the current field-goal attempt

Obviously, we have to make a bunch of simplifying assumptions even to get to this point. (For example, we are omitting the fact brought up in the Goat thread that in some cases, two subsequent field goals are enough for a win.)

The variables that are most difficult to estimate are the ones that involve the total remainder of regulation time, so rather than make a direct estimate, I like to solve for these at the break-even point, and see if the value seems clearly too high or too low. (And then see how the breakeven point changes as the values for the other input probabilities are changed.)

For example, if we estimate that p(Success) = 0.6, p(TD1) = 0.8, p(2-pt) = 0.4 (because of the shitty OL play), p(OT) = 0.4 (because in some scenarios, the opponent will end up with a greater number of possessions in regulation after the game has been tied), p(FG make) = 0.9, and p(FG) = 2 * p(TD), then the break-even point for p(TD) is approximately 0.3 - values higher than this favor the FG attempt, lower values favor the 4th-down conversion attempt. If this breakeven value had been something like 0.8, we could be pretty confident that going for it was the right call; if it had been 0.05, it would be strong evidence that Belichick was wrong. As it is, it falls squarely in the range of plausibility, so given the coarse nature of this approach, we can't say much one way or another.

The basic intuition is that you get some small amount of win equity from going for the 4th down (probably around 10%) thanks to the possibility of tying the game on this drive. This is offset by the fact that kicking an immediate FG makes a potential TD on a subsequent drive more valuable. The probability of this subsequent TD is low, meaning that this overall pro-FG effect is low, but then again so is the threshold that has to be cleared.

Please let me know if I made any egregious mistakes in setting this up (or if you get a significantly different result using different probability estimates). Even though this analysis doesn't give us a definite answer, it does suggest (IMO) that those who had a strong opinion one way or the other were probably incorrect.
Bingo. Its pretty marginal either way down 8. Think its a pretty clear go for it down 7. Down 8 is a called one score game, but since a TD only ties it half the time its sort of a 1.5 score game which gives kicking some merit over kicking down 7. If Amendola gets tackled and its 4th and 4 they probably kick there and its probably correct where as down 7 its a pretty clear go for it. As is its really marginal, think going for it is better but wouldn't have complained either way.

Also, they might have still stopped Denver down 5, but the Broncos also might have been more aggressive on offense and the offense would likely have had a longer field after a kickoff so its not a lock the game plays out the same way.

I didn't think it was the coaching staff's greatest effort, but the 4th and 1 decision wasn't really material, flipping a coin there doesn't change the outcome of the game much
 
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AB in DC

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There's only one reason why I might second-guess the decision. It should have been clear at that point in the game that the probability of a successful two-point conversation was going to be unusually low. And even then, that would only tie the game, possibly giving Denver enough time for one last drive in regulation. Most likely they were going to need two scoring drives, anyway.

But that's hindsight -- at the time, I thought going for it on fourth-and-one was the right call.


As for the play call, the problem was that Brady got a little too much air under the ball, forcing Edelman to wait too long for it. If it gets in Edelman's hands earlier, he has a chance to either break a tackle or dive for the sticks. Getting the ball to Edelman in space was the right idea, it just didn't work.
 

Mooch

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As the Pats were coming to the line for the 4th and 1, I kept thinking that they looked a bit confused and were rushing to get the play off. Wanted a Time Out there to reevaluate the play call but ultimately wanted them to go for it.
 

wiffleballhero

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I think I am parting ways with people here on what we can assume about the Denver offense. I think -- and thought it while watching the game -- that the Patriots had to assume that their own D would hold simply because if the D could not hold, a Denver TD or a field goal will both probably result in a loss regardless of what you do.


At six minutes, if they convert and score a TD and tie the game -- the best case scenerio -- with about 5 left, you are still going to lose if the D gives up a long, FG creating drive. Even if it is a short, FG creating drive you are in trouble.

So I am starting from the assumption that at 6:03 the Patriots could not play for a finish line that has Denver at 23 or 27. The had to play to get past 20.

And again, no matter what, you still need a FG to actually win, not just tie. The field goal eliminate the need for the two point conversion and opens up the possibility with 6:03 left of getting two other possessions to get to 21 on FGs.
 

Stitch01

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But the next a drive where the other team picks up a first down and then punts or two first downs and then punts you are still very much in the game and maybe have a chance to drive and win it or get to try and kick that FG in over time. If you have kicked a FG and the other team gets a couple of 1st downs, youd have to go the length of the field with no TO's and shitty field position, chances aren't very good. Scoring the last TD took a minor miracle as it was with decent field position.

If you can assume you are going to get a three and out every drive, absolutely, kick the FG, but that's a little bit of an aggressive assumption.

Its really marginal either way.
 

speedracer

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Just for the hell of it, I wrote a quick script to scrape 4thdownbot's logs to see how many times the bot had a sharp disagreement with each team's 4th down decisions over the course of the (regular) season.

49ers 9

bears 12

bengals 6

bills 2

broncos 7

browns 6

bucs 5

cardinals 2

chargers 5

chiefs 6

colts 9

cowboys 19

dolphins 7

eagles 4

falcons 10

giants 15

jaguars 10

jets 4

lions 6

packers 8

panthers 6

patriots 1

raiders 4

rams 10

ravens 3

redskins 5

saints 8

seahawks 7

steelers 9

texans 11

titans 10

vikings 6
 
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I'll add only that if they were down 7, not 8, I would be in the go-for-it camp. The two point conversion prospect seemed like a steep hill to climb.
This is exactly where I am. The entire time I considered the 8-point deficit as being down two scores, since I did not feel confident in them converting. The guy I was watching with even corrected me when I referred to it as a two-score game. From that perspective, I thought kicking the FG was a no-brainer.
 

speedracer

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This is exactly where I am. The entire time I considered the 8-point deficit as being down two scores, since I did not feel confident in them converting. The guy I was watching with even corrected me when I referred to it as a two-score game. From that perspective, I thought kicking the FG was a no-brainer.
How low do you think P(2pc) was? League average is 45% (and seems to be higher in recent years fwiw). Given the current matchup, OP's estimate of 40% is probably the lowest I'd put it. Sort of how like a 10% difference in OBP is the difference between a scrub and a MVP.

I'm also not sure how much P(2pc) matters - as others have pointed out, the value isn't just in trying to tie it on the current possession, it's in being able to win it with a FG later, or still be in the game if Denver gets a FG.

Trips into the red zone are hard to come by.
 
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Bellhorn

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I'll add only that if they were down 7, not 8, I would be in the go-for-it camp. The two point conversion prospect seemed like a steep hill to climb.
Exactly right, and you can see this in the formulation I gave in the OP, where P(2-pt) has much more impact on the 4th-down conversion scenario than it does on the FG attempt. I suspect that a failure to properly account for this factor is what is causing some people to overstate the case for going for it, which is indeed pretty clear-cut when the deficit is 7.

There's also the familiar risk aversion bugaboo, where there is a tendency to overvalue the potential of tying the game, instead of winning outright.
 

Bellhorn

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Just for the hell of it, I wrote a quick script to scrape 4thdownbot's logs to see how many times the bot had a sharp disagreement with each team's 4th down decisions over the course of the (regular) season.
Very interesting - this seems to (inversely) correlate quite well with coaching IQ, at least in what I think would be the common perception. Which was the one questionable decision for the Patriots? I don't remember finding any decisions particularly irritating this season.
 

tims4wins

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Very interesting - this seems to (inversely) correlate quite well with coaching IQ, at least in what I think would be the common perception. Which was the one questionable decision for the Patriots? I don't remember finding any decisions particularly irritating this season.
Week 2 @ Buffalo. 4th and 1 from the 8. Up by 5, 1:18 remaining in the game. Pats kicked to make it 8. Bot would have gone for it to ice game.

Edit: also, the bot only lists 6 or 7 games. Not sure if it is a complete list?
 

speedracer

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Very interesting - this seems to (inversely) correlate quite well with coaching IQ, at least in what I think would be the common perception. Which was the one questionable decision for the Patriots? I don't remember finding any decisions particularly irritating this season.
There was a 20-yard FG against Buffalo early in the season iirc. (EDIT: I guess it was longer than I remembered.)

Cowboys and Texans perhaps should be cut some slack as well given their QB situations -- probably they had a few 4th downs in there that they should go for with a above-replacement QB but which they correctly punted.
 

AB in DC

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How low do you think P(2pc) was? League average is 45% (and seems to be higher in recent years fwiw). Given the current matchup, OP's estimate of 40% is probably the lowest I'd put it. Sort of how like a 10% difference in OBP is the difference between a scrub and a MVP.
I'd put it much lower, 30% at most. Clearly the Pats wouldn't run, considering that they were struggling to get two yards per carry even without being a short-yardage situation. On a pass, I believe Brady's completion rate was under 50% at that point (lower if you count sacks) and that's with the Denver DBs having to guard the whole field in case of a long pass. .


[edit: For the whole game, Brady had 60 passing plays (including the conversion), and only 26 completions for positive yardage. That's 43% right there regardless of situation, and would be less where the D wouldn't have to cover a deep route.]
 
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speedracer

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I'd put it much lower, 30% at most. Clearly the Pats wouldn't run, considering that they were struggling to get two yards per carry even without being a short-yardage situation. On a pass, I believe Brady's completion rate was under 50% at that point (lower if you count sacks) and that's with the Denver DBs having to guard the whole field in case of a long pass. .

[edit: For the whole game, Brady had 60 passing plays (including the conversion), and only 26 completions for positive yardage. That's 43% right there regardless of situation, and would be less where the D wouldn't have to cover a deep route.]
OK. But I think you'd also have to be similarly pessimistic of the Patriots' chances of getting another drive deep into the red zone as well, unless you're counting on being able to get a total of 3 FG drives.
 

lexrageorge

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This was one of those decisions that had it worked and had the Pats won the game, Belichick would have been hailed as a genius.

Belichick has to look at the most probably outcome. Had they kicked the FG, the most probable outcome is that the Pats likely get one more drive, probably starting at the 20, and probably somewhere between 2 and 3 minutes to go. And they would need to score a TD against a defense that would be playing pass all the way.

IMO, better to go for the 6, and hope for either the 2-point play or a FG drive, which is much easier than a TD drive. I have no problem saying that the players should have picked up the yard if they want to be called a deserving Super Bowl team. Either way, the Patriots could not have counted on getting 2 more bites the apple, which is the hindsight that makes the play call look debatable.
 

Strike4

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As for the play call, the problem was that Brady got a little too much air under the ball, forcing Edelman to wait too long for it. If it gets in Edelman's hands earlier, he has a chance to either break a tackle or dive for the sticks. Getting the ball to Edelman in space was the right idea, it just didn't work.
I think this is exactly right - if you watch the play you can see that Demarcus Ware gets to Brady so quickly that Brady is forced to float the ball over Ware. This has the double effect of a) giving Chris Harris more time to close on Edelman and b) moving Edelman out of an open space and closer to Harris, almost like it is a long down-field pass leading a receiver. If the pass had arrived just a second faster, Edelman would have been in a nice seam between a triangle of three Denver defenders, with room to get 3-4 yards after the catch. A pass a bit more on a line would have also not led Edelman into the waiting arms of Harris.
 
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Question about that - WHY (on Earth) did Ware go in unblocked? Setting aside the fact that it felt like that happened a lot with Ware yesterday, that instance seemed particularly egregious. Blown assignment, I assume?

Edit I hate the keyboard, autocorrect and lots of other things.
 

williams_482

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OK. But I think you'd also have to be similarly pessimistic of the Patriots' chances of getting another drive deep into the red zone as well, unless you're counting on being able to get a total of 3 FG drives.
Not just similarly pessimistic. If you believe Brady and Co are that overmatched, you want to reduce the number of plays they need to make in order to win. The probability of successfully making a two point conversion is always going to be higher than the probability of pulling off a 50+ yard touchdown drive.
 

bowiac

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Given the math was reasonably close it seems, I do think taking 3 would have been better there, since all the "soft" factors I can think of favor taking 3 (e.g., how bad Denver's offense was looking, and how poorly the Patriots' o-line had played).
 

bowiac

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Not just similarly pessimistic. If you believe Brady and Co are that overmatched, you want to reduce the number of plays they need to make in order to win. The probability of successfully making a two point conversion is always going to be higher than the probability of pulling off a 50+ yard touchdown drive.
The two-point conversion doesn't win the game. You're not trying to keep the game "in contact" as long as possible. You're trying to win.
 

Strike4

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Question about that - WHY (on Earth) did Ware go in unblocked? Setting aside the fact that it felt like that happened a lot with Ware yesterday, that instance seemed particularly egregious. Blown assignment, I assume?
It was play action and the entire offensive line is shifting to the right, opposite where the throw will go, and so to maintain the illusion of a running play Ware is left unblocked (no need to block the DL who is furthest from the play). In order to get Ware out of the area where the throw will go, they need him to follow the fake handoff to Jackson and/or rush Brady. You can see that the play action buys them very little time, as Ware takes just a slight stutter step towards Jackson before lunging at Brady. Another consequence of the play action is that the play takes about two seconds longer to unfold. But without the play action they risk Ware staying at home and blowing up Edelman's route, so it has to be done. The downside is that Brady is left totally unprotected and has to manage Ware on his own. This is a heavy burden to place on a quarterback who has been hammered for the whole game, and you can see that in Brady's throw.
 

Gunfighter 09

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I wanted them to take the points both times, despite being someone who typically wants the team I am rooting for to be more aggressive with 4th down calls. My reason for this is that, not only did I not think the Manning led Broncos could get a time killing first down, I thought the likelihood of a catastrophic Denver turnover was extremely likely if the Broncos did push for a first down. That game deciding turnover obviously didn't happen, but it very nearly did the one time they let Manning try to win the game with his arm, when Ryan had both hands on Manning's clock stopping go route before the 2 minute warning.

I am still a bit stunned at how much respect Belechick and Patricia gave this version of Peyton Manning and that terrible Broncos offensive line.
 

RedOctober3829

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This is what sticks in my gut the most as the worst decision yesterday. With 6:03 left you absolutely, positively, without a doubt take the points in that situation. I don't think anybody can tell me a good reason for going for it. If Gostkowski makes the FG, you are down less than a touchdown with, say, 5:55 left. After a touchback, Denver has the ball at the 20. With the way the Patriots defense was playing in the 2nd half there was a good chance they stop them. IIRC, they had all 3 timeouts left as well plus the 2 minute warning. You'd get the ball back with a ton of time and 4 chances to stop the clock.
 

DeadlySplitter

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This looks terrible in hindsight but I think this was more about not trusting the offense to get into the red zone again at the time, not the defense.
 

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This looks terrible in hindsight but I think this was more about not trusting the offense to get into the red zone again at the time, not the defense.
Yes, it's this. Firstly, before the 4th and 1 decision Denver had just had a 10 play drive which killed a lot of clock. Logical to think that the defense might be getting tired.

Secondly, the Pats were getting nothing from the OL all day and had great difficultly sustaining drives. If they kick a FG there they still need a TD to win, and honestly it's worth giving them the benefit of the doubt in thinking they might not reach the 16 yard line again.
 

Stitch01

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I wanted them to take the points both times, despite being someone who typically wants the team I am rooting for to be more aggressive with 4th down calls. My reason for this is that, not only did I not think the Manning led Broncos could get a time killing first down, I thought the likelihood of a catastrophic Denver turnover was extremely likely if the Broncos did push for a first down. That game deciding turnover obviously didn't happen, but it very nearly did the one time they let Manning try to win the game with his arm, when Ryan had both hands on Manning's clock stopping go route before the 2 minute warning.

I am still a bit stunned at how much respect Belechick and Patricia gave this version of Peyton Manning and that terrible Broncos offensive line.
Kicking down 8 with 2:20 left from the five yard line would be horrific, there's no decision to make there.
 

lexrageorge

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I wanted them to take the points both times, despite being someone who typically wants the team I am rooting for to be more aggressive with 4th down calls. My reason for this is that, not only did I not think the Manning led Broncos could get a time killing first down, I thought the likelihood of a catastrophic Denver turnover was extremely likely if the Broncos did push for a first down. That game deciding turnover obviously didn't happen, but it very nearly did the one time they let Manning try to win the game with his arm, when Ryan had both hands on Manning's clock stopping go route before the 2 minute warning.

I am still a bit stunned at how much respect Belechick and Patricia gave this version of Peyton Manning and that terrible Broncos offensive line.
If there is a nit to be picked with regards to the coaching, it's this one, especially on the first Denver drive where the Pats used the cushion of doom on a 3rd-and-long and got predictably burned.
 

Gunfighter 09

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Kicking down 8 with 2:20 left from the five yard line would be horrific, there's no decision to make there.

Typically, you would be right. In the context of that extremely unusual second half, I disagree. I just don't think Manning had anymore than a negligible chance of getting a first down. There was no chance for a kickoff return because the touchback was basically assured in the thin Denver air. With four clock stoppages, you were certain to have at least one timeout when you got the ball back and Denver was missing both of their safeties, making it easier to get in position for the winning, rather than tying, touchdown.

I felt like the last 2:20 of that game, with the exception of Brady missing Gronk on the two point play, played out exactly as a reasonable observer could expect in real time.
 

DeadlySplitter

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It's funny how eerily similar this could have been to the Jets game. Gronk converts on 4th again, without XP fluke it's 20-20 OT again.
 

BoredViewer

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At the time I was saying to take the points. I figured with 6 minutes left, 3 TOs and the 2-minute warning, there was time to get the ball back at least once, if not twice (they did get it twice).

I don't think BB made a horribly wrong decision - but it wasn't the one I would've made.
 

Stitch01

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Typically, you would be right. In the context of that extremely unusual second half, I disagree. I just don't think Manning had anymore than a negligible chance of getting a first down. There was no chance for a kickoff return because the touchback was basically assured in the thin Denver air. With four clock stoppages, you were certain to have at least one timeout when you got the ball back and Denver was missing both of their safeties, making it easier to get in position for the winning, rather than tying, touchdown.

I felt like the last 2:20 of that game, with the exception of Brady missing Gronk on the two point play, played out exactly as a reasonable observer could expect in real time.
The Pats were at the five yard line or eight yard line or whatever. The Pats later scored a TD with 12 seconds left through somewhat of a minor miracle including two fourth down conversions and a quasi desperation heave into double coverage for the TD. That drive started closer than a drive Denver started at the 20 would have started from. I bet even if you somehow actually knew Denver was never going to get another first down by that point, and negligible chance of a first down is never really something like zero percent there, you still would go for the TD at that point because it was pretty unlikely they'd get a better chance to score a TD.

Kicking on the first 4th down would have been fine, kicking on the second 4th down would have been insane.
 

speedracer

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Typically, you would be right. In the context of that extremely unusual second half, I disagree. I just don't think Manning had anymore than a negligible chance of getting a first down.
People ITT are massively overreacting to the events of one game when assigning probabilities for 4th down conversion, 2-point conversion, 3-and-out, etc. I mean, just last week the Seahawks looked like a college team in the first half and turned it around in the second.
 

jasail

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I did not like the decision to go for it at the time. To win, the Pats needed two scores, so they needed points. Take the points there and then try for the TD later. Similar to what Pitt tried to do the week before, but with a lot more time, potentially enough for two possessions.

What made me hate it was the play call. If you are going to go for it there, spread them out and take a quick shot. Make the Broncos stop your best package. They did the opposite and ran a slow developing play that allowed the Broncos to exploit the Patriots poor OLine. That play had no chance of working.