SI.com’s Peter King wrote a blistering column this morning about Arizona’s “historic choke job.” In typical King style, he treads pretty lightly on poor head coaching decisions. In real time (not just Tuesday morning QB-ing), I was shaking my head at the Cardinals’ coaching decision to close up shop at the Bears’ 23-yard line with two runs. I had seen this kind of scenario before during the ultra-conservative days of Jeff Fisher (pre-2002) — get just within reasonable field goal range and hope for the best. It cost the Titans a Super Bowl in the 2001 playoffs in the game where they manhandled the Ravens but decided to put most of their eggs in the Al Del Greco basket.
This morning, I looked up the FG percentages so far this season. Between 40 and 49 yards, there’s about a 1 in 4 shot at missing not counting the extra, end-of-game pressure. Given that the kick barely exceeded 40 yards, the figure may be closer to 1 in 5. With a few more yards the chances of missing fall way off. In the 30-39 range, it’s just below 1 in 10 and only 1 in 20 for the 20-29 range. While King thinks kicker Neil Rackers “can’t show his face without getting pelted by tomatoes,” the he doesn’t even raise the issue of the barely-get-in-range-and-hope-for-the-best strategy. Instead, King describes the drive as “stalling out” at the 23.