Originally Posted by 24champ
I agreed with the run play, but for crying out loud, you have 30 seconds and timeouts to get a FG to win the game.
"In a tie game, the Broncos started their final drive on their own 20 with 0:31 seconds remaining and two timeouts in hand. John Fox says, "Let's take it to overtime" and has potentially the greatest quarterback ever kneel down instead of trying for the game-winning field goal. That wasn't the first time the Broncos made this mistake. In fact, they made an eerily similar gaffe at the end of the first half. After missing a field goal and allowing a long Torrey Smith touchdown, the Broncos received the ball at the 20 with 0:36 seconds left and three timeouts. John Fox ran the ball one time and headed to the locker room. The only real explanation is that Fox believes momentum has predictive power. His thought process was probably that after two huge plays from Baltimore, the only thing that could come from an attempted 30-second drive is a game-changing mistake.
Let's look at the facts. The Broncos have Peyton Manning at the helm. They are playing at Mile High which adds about 5-yards to field goal range. The Broncos have 2+ timeouts in both situations. At the end of regulation, if it's tied, you go to overtime where there is a 50% chance of winning the game. According to Brian's win probability calculator, the initial win probability of the final drive was 54% (if you include the fact that it was played at Mile High).
I pulled all the drives that started between 20 and 40 seconds left in the game with 2+ timeouts, in a 3-point to 0-point deficit range (those ranges where a field goal would be the primary goal of the offense) since 2000 where the offense did not just kneel or run the ball into the end of the game. It was also limited to those drives that started inside a team's own 30-yard line. I found 21 such drives, here were the results:
First thing to note is that 21 is not a huge sample size, but at least it provides a baseline for an analysis of the Broncos decision. Out of the 21 drives, seven resulted in a field goal attempt and only one of those was from over 60 yards. One drive resulted in a huge mistake and ultimate loss (Donovan McNabb threw an interception in a tie game which ultimately resulted in a Redskins game-winning field goal). For those 16 drives with no score (including the field goal misses), there is no difference to just kneeling down. In other words, there is no downside, both result in a 50% chance of winning the game as it goes to overtime.
I could have pulled similar situations at the end of the first half, which would have increased the sample size and allowed us a better look at the first half decision to just run the ball, but I wanted to focus especially on the end-of-game scenario where score was the primary factor. These results would suggest that if a team decided to go for the win, it would result in about a 57% chance of winning the game. Add Peyton Manning into the mix and that number certainly increases.
Last game of the season, can't hold anything back.
Oh, and the Atlanta Falcons started their final drive at the 28-yard line with 31 seconds left and two timeouts, and they kicked a go-ahead game-winning field goal (essentially the identical situation). C'mon, John.