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New England Patriots Links 11/16/09 - Patriots Lose A Heartbreaker; Earth Still Spinning; Sun Came Up

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<em>Third arm's the charm.  Randy Moss catches the ball - and Antoine Bethea - for a touchdown.</em>
Third arm's the charm. Randy Moss catches the ball - and Antoine Bethea - for a touchdown.

Mike Petraglia offers some quick hits from Tom Brady's Post-Game Presser:

"We had an opportunity to win the game. We’ve been working on that for a long time. Just came up short."

"We had a lot of good plays today. Coach has a lot of confidence that we can gain a yard-and-a-half to win the game."

"Coach is being aggressive and I love that about him. We just came up short."

"We just said we’re going. It’s a bummer. There’s a lot of football left."

"He’s thinking we have our offense on the field and we have over 450 yards of offense." Brady explaining logic of going for it.

"Up 13 with four minutes left, and you can’t close them out, that’s going to stick with us for a long time."

"We’ve got to make improvements. I know why we lost. I don’t think it’s a surprise. Play a good team and you can’t miss opportunities."

"I never second-guess coach Belichick. It’s easy to second guess."

Advanced NFL Stats:  Belichick's 4th down decision was statistically the right one.

With 2:00 left and the Colts with only one timeout, a successful conversion wins the game for all practical purposes. A 4th and 2 conversion would be successful 60% 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% of the time from that field position. The total WP for the 4th down conversion attempt would therefore be:

(0.60 * 1) + (0.40 * (1-0.53)) = 0.79 WP

A punt from the 28 typically nets 38 yards, starting the Colts at their own 34. Teams historically get the TD 30% of the time in that situation. So the punt gives the Pats about a 0.70 WP.

Statistically, the better decision would be to go for it, and by a good amount. However, these numbers are baselines for the league as a whole. You'd have to expect the Colts had a better than a 30% chance of scoring from their 34, and an accordingly higher chance to score from the Pats' 28. But any adjustment in their likelihood of scoring from either field position increases the advantage of going for it.

You can play with the numbers any way you like, but it's pretty hard to come up with a realistic combination of numbers that make punting the better option. At best, you could make it a wash.