Although they outplayed Seattle for 58 minutes, the Green Bay Packers lost the NFC championship yesterday. In the post mortem analysis (and it really must feel like an autopsy to the Packers and their fans), four decision points stand out to this observer.
Twice within the 1st quarter, the Packers chose to accept a field goal attempt for the Seattle 1 yard line. The success rate for conversion attempts under this circumstance is 53%.
Trailing 16-0 late in the 3rd quarter, the Seahawks executed a fake field goal from the 19 yard line for a touchdown. Statistics on such opportunities are harder to come by since they are much rarer, but best estimates are a success rate, also, of around 50%
With just a few minutes left in the game, the Packers failed to cover an onside kick that everyone in the football watching world knew was coming. In the NFL overall, onside kicks enjoy a 26% success rate.
Thus, the Packer failed to seize 2 opportunities with a 50% success rate, and failed to defend against 2 other opportunities that the Seahawks chose to seize, with an average success rate of 35%. The potential reward for success from any of these 4 decision points needs no further elaboration.
If Mike McCarthy were a hedge fund manager, my guess is he would be looking a new job this morning.
My beloved Patriots may lose the Super Bowl in 2 weeks, but I doubt it will be due to this kind miscalculation of risk and reward on Bill Belichik’s part.