I like how probability has come into play here with the Patriots fans jumping in to defend the call.
The reason why it was a bad call: they lost.
But being a bad call doesn't necessarily mean it was the wrong one. I think what people are getting hung up on here is you can make the correct decision and it still be a bad call. Equate it to Texas Hold 'em where you know that pot odds dictate that you should call, even though you suspect you have a losing hand. The game says to play the numbers because you'll end up winning that way over the long term. It still doesn't make it right when you lose the hand.
Having said that, let's look at this mathematically:
- 2 point conversions tend to have a 45% success rate. (I contend that it's higher than this because all failed snaps/holds where the holder tries to pass the ball count as a failed two point conversion, but you have to play the numbers as given.)
- The Colts had 1 timeout left
- The ball was on the 28 or 29 (can't remember).
- Punt generally yield about 40 net yards (might be just a little bit lower)
- Manning had been having receiver miscommunications and had thrown 2 picks
- Manning would have had less than 2 minutes to get the TD.
Now what we need is to determine:
- Is the 45% success rate correct for the Patriots converting that 4th and 2? I would actually contend that it's higher for them, as that 78% conversion on 4th down is accurate (I looked it up).
- What's the % chance that the Colts convert a 29 yard field into a TD? (I'm guessing this is high, like 50%, but I'm guessing).
- What's the % chance that the Colts convert a 69 yard field into a TD? (I'm guessing this is much lower, like 20% but I'm guessing).
- What's the % chance Manning throws an INT or that another player fumbles? (I'm guessing this is low, like 3%)
- What's the % chance the Colts run the punt back for a TD? (I'm guessing this is also low and possibly countered by the effect that now you have to account for Brady's chances to drive down the field to get only a field goal.)
Remember that the Patriots get to work the sidelines and deep, keeping the Colts in the middle of the field, which plays into the percentages as well.
So the equation for a Patriots win needs to be something like:
- 0.45 + 0.55 x (1 - 0.50) = 0.725 for the conversion on 4th and 2. This doesn't include the minuscule chance that a turnover occurs when the Colts have the ball.
- Compare the above number to the 20% chance (plus the minute chance of a turnover again)
In other words, Belichick's percentages were on the wrong side (again, assuming my guestimations--use better numbers if you can find them
) and he should have punted
My favorite part about this is the Patriots lose but I still get Moss' great production.