GREEN BAY, Wis. – Matt LaFleur said when he regretted his decision to take the ball out of Aaron Rodgers ‘hands and kick a field goal with 2:09 left in the Green Bay Packers’ 31-26 loss. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers relied on the thinking behind the move in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.
Down eight points (31-23) at the time and facing a fourth and goal at the 8-yard line, LaFleur sent Mason Crosby to a 26-yard field goal giving Rodgers another shot in the end zone ( Then a 2-point-conversation attempt to tie the score).
Crosby converted, but Rodgers did not get the ball back due to Tom Brady and Packers cornerback Kevin King had an interception call that allowed the Bucs to get off the clock.
“Yes, it never works, you always regret it, don’t you?” LaFelur said after the game. “It was just the circumstances of having three shots and getting away with no yards and knowing that you not only need a touchdown, but you need a 2-point [conversion]. The way I was watching it, we were essentially four timeouts with a two-minute warning.
“We knew we needed to get a stop, and I figured we were finally going to have a stop there, but we were called for it [defensive pass interference] And it did not work. I think nothing works at any point, do you regret it? Sure, but we’re always going to be process-driven here, and the way our defense was playing, the way our defense was playing, it felt like it was the right decision. It just didn’t work.
Rodgers understood the thinking, but said after the game, “It wasn’t my decision.” He said LaFleur gave him the option of calling the previous play up to third place – a play that resulted in a scuffle and a stampede when Rodgers managed to make it.
Rodgers said he might have called a different play if he knew that Lafleur was going to select a field goal.
“I figured maybe we were going to go four,” Rodgers said.
According to ESPN’s Win Probability Model, the Packers had a 10% chance of winning to finish fourth and a 9.5% chance of winning by kicking a field goal.
The model also suggested that the Packers needed a 21% chance to convert to justify going for a touchdown there, with an average conversion rate of 23%. The Packers were the No. 1 scoring offense this season.
Earlier, LaFleur opted for a 2-point conversation with Rodgers’ 2-yard touchdown pass to Davant Adams with 24 seconds left in the third quarter to make it 28-23. Packers receiver Equinomus St. Brown dropped Rodgers’ pass in the Anders zone. According to ESPN’s model, a 2-point unsuccessful attempt was the right decision from an analytics point of view.
Although, losing at one point, they were prepared for an extra point, the Packers later found themselves in a position to be down by eight, thus giving them a touchdown and a 2-point in the final moments before the final leg. Negotiation was required. aim.
Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said he felt the decision was correct – “I felt he had a lot of confidence in his defense at the time,” he said – but linebacker Sheikh Barrett said he was surprised.
“I couldn’t honestly believe it, because there was no guarantee that they were going to return it again, even if they were fourth,” said Barrett. “I know that our offense – they have been amazing in four minutes of offense this year, not giving the ball to the team – so I had extreme confidence in them. But, I know if he can take it back, He might not do it next time. “
Although Lafleur was not necessarily talking about a field goal decision, he said near the end of his news conference that he was not at the top of his game.
“I think we had a lot of opportunities tonight to take advantage and get work,” LaFleur said. “We didn’t do that, and it falls on me, and it’s a hard pill to swallow when you’re responsible to everyone in this organization to make sure you’re on your A-game, and I don’t think Is like i was tonight. I’m just so disappointed [I] Let a lot of people down. “
Jenna Line of ESPN contributed to this story.