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October 27, 2010

Is it easier to score two times or three?

With 8:19 left in the Cowboys’ loss to the Giants on Monday, Dallas had a fourth down as the New York six while trailing in the game 38-20.

David Buehler already had field goals of 26 and 41 yards so it was reasonable to believe he could have hit one from less than 25 yards.

If he’d been successful, the Cowboys would have trailed 38-23 -- a two-possession game. They would have had to score on a two-point conversion after one of their TDs, but they still would have needed two possessions rather than three to tie or take the lead.

Instead, after a failed Jon Kitna pass, they still trailed by 18, which meant they had to score three times.

Phillips continued on Wednesday to defend the decision to go for the field goal by saying, “We would have lost by three. We lost by six. You kick a field goal and you lose by three.”

That, of course, was a disingenuous answer. When the fourth down play failed, the Giants took over on the six yard line. If the Cowboys had scored a field goal, there would have been a kickoff. There would have been a completely different set of plays that occurred after that.

Phillips went on to say that with eight minutes left in the game, “We were 18 points behind [and] we needed a touchdown to win the game and I think that’s still true.”

The bottom line is Phillips was willing to take a chance on a situation and that he saw no advantage to having a two-possession game rather than a three-possession game.

-- Jan Hubbard


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indeed. god help me i am gonna back Fat Wade on this one. down 18 pts in the 4th quarter and at the 5 or 6 yard line, you go for the TD. especially the way Kitna had played to that point, there was no likelihood we'd make it that far down there again.

if you're on the 30 yard line, sure you kick the FG. but on the 5? down 18? you go for that every time. otherwise you need 2 more drives to go the length of the field and Wade can't say it because Kitna was his QB, but the odds of that then happening were slim and none and slim was on vacation.

It's not as simple as comparing two scores to three scores. You also have to figure in the the probability of getting one of the two touchdowns that you HAVE to have in order to have any chance to win the game.

The chances of getting a touchdown from the 6-yard line are much better than from much farther out on the field. If you don't make it, the overall odds of winning go way down, but if you do make it, the overall odds of winning increase dramatically. It's a matter of judgment as to which is the best approach. Of course, it's a long shot either way at that point.

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