Monday, November 22, 2004

I call it the "don't play defense" strategy

Adam Vinateri just kicked a field goal. There is 01:46 remaining in the fourth quarter, and the Patriots are kicking off, up eight points. The Chiefs, of course, will try to score a touchdown and two-point conversion, to drive the game into overtime. This seems like the sort of position where something really unusual might be the rational strategy. Suppose that the Patriots kicked the ball off and instructed all the coverage people to just sit down and let the Chiefs score on the kickoff. Chiefs get a free touchdown, bringing the Pats margin to two points. Now the Patriots play their very best defense against the two-point conversion attempt. If they can stop it, they get the ball back with a buck thirty left in the game and a two point lead -- pretty close to a certain victory. If they can't, then the game is tied and the Pats get that 1:30 to put together a game-winning drive. Fifty yards and a chance for Vinateri to be a hero yet again. You have to like the Pats's odds under those circumstances. Playing conventionally, the Patriots have to spend the last 1:42 trying to stop a drive. In this case, the Chiefs have a very explosive offense, and just finished putting up a 97-yard drive, and the Patriots's secondary is weakened by injury. It seems like my suggestion would be the rational course of action if the Patriots think they can more easily score than stop the Chiefs from scoring. I'm not sure the relative strengths of offense and defense were to that point, but it's not crazy to suggest they might've been. As it happens, during the time it took me to write this post, the Patriots stopped the Chiefs's drive and won the game. Still, though, my way would've been pretty cool.

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