We all know what happened. Mike McCoy called a field goal on 4th and 1, with 2 minutes left, on the Oakland eighteen yard line. This would have made for a 35-yard field goal. For those of you who don’t know, Josh Lambo is perfect on field goals under 40 yards in his career. I’m talking about field goals, not PATs by the way.
So, statistically, there’s roughly a 100% chance based on history that Jake Lambo makes this kick. How often do you hear of a botched snap on a “chip shot” field goal? Not very often, so I guarantee there was no thought of this when the call went in.
So now that I’ve established that Josh Lambo is money at those distances, let’s look into the actual choice to go for it vs. letting Josh Lambo do his thing which he has done perfectly under 40 yards for his whole NFL career (and only missed one in his college career).
The Chargers running back, Melvin Gordon, has been a lot better this season. There is no question about that, and he was having a solid game against the Raiders. The only negatives were that he fumbled in two pressure situations in the last two games, and was just stuffed for a short gain on 3rd and 2. So, with 2 minutes left, why not put it on the foot of the guy who has been nothing but perfect at that length of field goal in his career. Why rely on running it on 4th and 1, which according to Football Outsiders, last year had a 67.1% conversion rate NFL-wide? Passes converted 4th and 1 at a 54% clip last year. Not exactly guaranteed success. Why not kick the field goal to tie the game, and potentially go to overtime? Why risk not converting on 4th down and losing? All of you know it’s completely true that if Mike McCoy went for it on 4th down and didn’t convert, you’d all be blowing hot air about him making terrible decisions. Hindsight is 20/20.
Let’s take a look at the defense. The defense had just come off forcing a 3 and out, led by Joey Bosa’s sack, and the BS call of pass interference, practically giving the Raiders a TD which came off great field position due to Drew Kaser’s worst punt of his NFL career. I don’t care that the Chargers could have won a game on a much less automatic play. The NFL is about taking calculated risks. There was no reason to take such a risk when you could tie the game and fire up your defense to try and force a stop.
It’s much harder to get 35 yards on offense in the NFL than it is to kick a 35-yard field goal. There is no question about that. To top that off, Sebastian Janikowski had only converted on 50% of his 50+ yard FGs this year and had missed one from 50 during Sunday’s game too. So, no, there was no guarantee that Janikowski would nail a long field goal to win the game.
Mike McCoy was right to call for a chip-shot field goal. If he had called a run or a pass and missed, I guarantee the vast majority of BFTB’ers would have chastised the decision and would have called that the straw that broke the camel’s back in Mike McCoy’s career as Head Coach of the Chargers.