With a Super Bowl berth hanging in the balance, down eight points to the greatest quarterback of all time, this year’s presumptive MVP under center, Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur opted to kick a field goal with 2:09 left in the game. It was fourth-and-goal from the eight yard line.
Why would you kick a field goal to make it a five point game and give the ball back to Tom Brady and company? It makes literally no sense. If you kick the field goal and make it, you still have to come up with a stop/turnover and score a touchdown to win. If you go for it on fourth down, you have an opportunity to tie the game. If you go for it on fourth down and you don’t score, you STILL need the same stop/turnover and a touchdown, and you back Brady up at his own eight yard line.
There is no downside in going for it.
But the blame does not fall squarely on the shoulders of LaFleur. Rodgers was scrambling on third down when he took a shot at the end zone. The line opened up in front of him, and tucking it and running was definitely an option. Maybe he wouldn’t have scored, but if he got the ball closer to the goal line, he might have made the decision to go for it on fourth down easier.
Of course, they never got the ball back. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers won 31-26.
Regardless, kicking a field goal should not have been an option. Being conservative in moments like that is just trying to play not to lose, instead of playing to win. LaFleur is — rightly so — going to face a long offseason of answering questions about that decision.