Football Question

I know that many of you watch and know more about football than me, so I am going to ask you a question. If you watched the Patriots/Broncos game on Sunday, you noticed at the end, the Broncos had the ball on third down with very little time left. Orton gets sacked and it is a 4th and 15 at the 50 yard line, well out of range of a field goal.

The Broncos decide to punt and put the ball at the 5, and the Patriots do not return it, nor do they attempt a play with seven seconds left. The Broncos win the coin toss and drive down and kick a field goal to win the game in OT. Here is my question: why not try for the touchdown at the end of the game if you are the Broncos?

Hear me out for a second. They were at the 50 yard line, you take a a deep pass towards the end zone, what is likely to happen? The ball either gets batted down, or in a worst case scenario, the Patriots intercept the ball and run it back for a touchdown. What are the odds of that though?

Also, if you do not complete the pass and the Patriots recover with time on the clock, they will only have time for one more play and they too will be out of field goal range. To me it just seemed silly to punt at that point, especially when you are just letting a coin toss decide the game (I know they always say that some ridiculous % of teams that win the coin toss win the game…)

For those of you who watched the game, or know more about football, please weigh in on this for me.

11 thoughts on “Football Question

  1. actually, thats a very valid question…and I ask the same question. In regards to the game clock, if everyone knows theres going to be ahail mary, all the players are just going to hang in the endzone anyway. If im the quarterback, I scramble around the pocket and maneuver myself outside of the tackle box to kill what little time is left on the clock; launch the ball as far as i can to the endzone which is around a 3-4 second hang time and wait to see a result. So. to answer your question, I have no idea why they didnt do the bomb instead of a punt.

  2. I would think that a bad sack putting NE in range of a FG or shorter hail mary is more likely than the hail mary actually working. I would have done the same thing, why risk it?

  3. But the throw itself is more likely to happen than the sack, which is what you are looking for.

    At that point in the game, the defense will be playing a prevent defense and have 3 men in the box, at max, and the rest of their defensive “hands” men, including some wide receivers hanging out in the end zone to knock down or intercept a pass. The scramble kills 3-4 seconds and gives receivers time to head down field and then the throw itself does the same.

    However, the punt and the subsequent kneel also took this game into overtime so the argument is kind of moot.

  4. First, i’d say that I wouldn’t count on seeing only 3-4 men in the box. you might not see full pressure, but in this type of situation you could actually rush 5 or 6 and go with all your defensive backs in deep zone coverage with a linebacker or two playing spy coverage or medium zone coverage just in case.

    I think you don’t run a play because a lot of bad things can happen in that situation. sacks, fumbles, interceptions. I don’t agree with kern’s defensive analysis here, because if a defensive coordinator knows that the hail mary is coming, he doesn’t need 7 players near the 1 yard line, you need maybe 4-5.

    Offord also has a good point about Orton’s arm. that’s a long throw that i don’t think he’s capable of making.

    i would agree with kern regarding chucking it up only if your special teams play was terrible. good special teams play, even if you lose the toss can give you a chance to win. combine that with a good defense, and even losing the toss you still have a good chance to win, better than you do with one risky play.

  5. I’m pretty sure any NFL Quarterback can chuck a ball 50 yards. Hell, I can chuck it 30+ yards and I never played quarterback competitively. Even Chad Pennington can throw 50 yards, and he only has half a shoulder. So the distance is not a question, so you can get that out of your heads right now.

    If it is indeed a hail mary situation. There will be AT LEAST 4 men wide…as a secondary playing a prevent, you cannot have merely a 1:1 ration of CB’s to WR’s. The WR’s will have the advantage everytime. The most men rushed on the QB will be only 4 at most, and the rest will drop into coverage with maybe 1 player floating in nowhere land to make up for a dump for a hook and lateral type play.

    On defense it would be the equivalent for a “hands” team on special teams, and they would bring WR’s and sure handed TE’s out to defend the deep pass. The patriots are a perfect example of this during this game, when Randy Moss got an interception to end the half.

  6. I like all the reasoning, and the debate. Interesting to hear each point.

    I do not like the reasoning of “well something bad could happen, like a fumble or interception.” The same can be said on 3rd down as well. If you have no confidence in your offense then why not run the clock out at the end of the half anyways if you are Denver.

    If Orton get’s sacked, that still does not put New England in kicking range (unless Orton runs back 10 yards…)

    I understand that this is the conventional reasoning and thought process, but sometimes conventional reasoning is just stupid. Look at baseball, so many things are done because that is the way it’s always been done, yet stats show that its a bad idea (bunting with no outs when your leadoff guy gets on first, especially if your number 2 hitter recently won a batting title…)

  7. Ngewo: i agree that this is conventional football wisdom, but i think football is different than baseball. under no circumstances do you want your offensive players trying to make a big tackle. and those bad things happen often enough to make it a real concern.

    also, one assumption here is bad, that is the result of the overtime. in fact, only 8 of 18 games this year that went into overtime were won by the team getting the ball first. football is ultimately about special teams and defensive play–which establishes and controls field position.

    you are surely right in your baseball analysis, but football plays out much differently.

    kern: there is legitmate concern about the ability to through a good 50 yard pass. sure, can throw it 30 yards, but 50 yards is a big difference. and you don’t need a 50 yard arm to succeed in the nfl. further, perhaps he can chuck it 50 yards, but that is a prayer to a god that isn’t there. chucking it 50 yards and throwing a pass to a receiver 50 yards downfield are two different things. its much like the difference between a 1-0 breakaway vs. a penalty shot. same exact situation, but one the goalie is at a disadvantage and the other he has the advantage.

    ngewo: to answer your general question, if i think i’ve got the special teams and defensive edge, and my players look like they feel good, i take my chances in overtime.

    kern: i will concede that a 1-1 ratio is not enough, but once receivers get to the endzone, there’s not a lot else to do. so i dont’t think you need 7 or 8 men back there. i think 1, maybe 2 more than the receivers down there. you should be playing zone defense in a prevent situation like that, and there will be no man coverage. in a typical scheme, there are realistically only 4 deep zones, and any nfl safety or corner should have the range to make a play on a typical hail mary.

    what i might do in that situation is throw a mid range slant or similar route. try to catch a break and a few missed tackles, or even run the football.

    interesting discussion though. we should argue this stuff more.

    btw… who’s excited about the pens again this year, they look awesome. if that team were a woman, they would be megan fox.

  8. Except Megan Fox is a bitchy slut. She lost all attraction* to me when I read about some of the stuff she does on set and how she treats people, and pretends to have a self image problem. Whatever, I heard she has a sex tape with Screech as well (not confirmed).

    *Not completely factual

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