Belichick Must Have Been A Math Major
A conversion on 4th-and-2 would be successful 60 percent of the time. Historically, in a situation with 2:00 left and needing a TD to either win or tie, teams get the TD 53 percent of the time from that field position.
Add it up and, according to the article, the Patriots had a 79 percent chance of winning by going for it. If they kicked, the number is 70 percent. At least that’s what the story says.
The problem with this is that the data come from all NFL games without taking into account the actualities of this particular game:
1. After starting the game with three touchdowns and one field goal in its first five possessions, New England’s offense had gone punt, punt, interception, fumble, touchdown, punt, field goal. And the scoring drives had gone for 7 and 13 yards. The Colts’ defense had the upper hand.
2. Historically, teams get a touchdown 53 percent of the time in the Colts’ position. But historically, few teams have had Peyton Manning at quarterback.
3. In its previous three possessions, Indianapolis had run 12 plays for 158 yards and two touchdowns. One of those was an interception on the first play of the drive.
Personally, I liked Belichick’s decision; it certainly made things interesting. But it doesn’t make sense to say the math pencils out without considering what was happening in this particular game.
And it certainly doesn’t make sense to run a 1-yard pass on fourth-and-2. That’s a 100 percent fail.