Skip to content

Raiders should have opted for Polish Cannon over Hail Mary

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos Getty Images

Lost in the confusion regarding the final play of the Raiders-Bills game, which featured an interception in the end zone by Da’Norris Searcy that was unexpectedly reviewed via replay for reasons neither obvious nor apparent, is the broader question of whether the Raiders should have gone not for the win but for the tie.

Football Night in America editorial consultant Elliott Kalb raised a great point after the game ended.  With the Raiders trailing 38-35 at their own 44 and with time for only one more play, Sebastian Janikowski could have forced overtime with a 73-yard field goal.

Yes, it sounds a little nutty to assume Janikowski would have had a shot at nailing one from even the limits of the range of a Disney donkey that perfected the rarely-used back-of-heel kicking motion, but a week ago Janikowski hit a 63-yarder in Denver, after making a 70-yarder before the game.

What’s that, you say?  Sunday’s game wasn’t played at Colorado’s mile-high altitude?

That’s correct, but as Elliott pointed out when I raised the same question, Janikowski attempted a 76-yarder in Oakland on September 28, 2008, before halftime of a game against the Chargers.  Though the kick was no good, the question becomes whether the chances of making a very long field goal were greater than the chances of converting on a Hail Mary pass, which maybe works once a year on a league-wide basis.

Given the unique skills of the man known as the Polish Cannon, giving him a chance to force a tie may have been more fruitful than praying for a Hail Mary win.

Permalink 44 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Buffalo Bills, Home, Oakland Raiders, Rumor Mill
44 Responses to “Raiders should have opted for Polish Cannon over Hail Mary”
  1. fin72 says: Sep 19, 2011 8:33 AM

    Wrong.

  2. flbills says: Sep 19, 2011 8:34 AM

    Yeah, maybe the raiders could use him on defense too. Fitz dissected them for 5 TDs in 2nd half.

    I didn’t think the raiders were for real!

    Go Bills!!

  3. EJ says: Sep 19, 2011 8:37 AM

    Should of could of… didn’t.

  4. raiderapologist says: Sep 19, 2011 8:40 AM

    Or, the Raider defense could have just made a tackle in the second half.

  5. stanmackley says: Sep 19, 2011 8:43 AM

    Raiders attempt a 73 yarder, it falls 10 yards short of the uprights, then the headline reads “Of Course He Couldn’t Kick a 73-yarder, Why Not Just Bomb it to the End Zone?”

  6. damnsureis says: Sep 19, 2011 8:49 AM

    It would have been tough but on the off chance that he made it, it would have been the play of the year possibly. And it would tough for the Bills to play in overtime knowing that the Raiders can win the game from their side of the field.

  7. jw731 says: Sep 19, 2011 8:50 AM

    Were you guys drinking when you had this conversation?

  8. onthewagonsince90 says: Sep 19, 2011 8:51 AM

    Who cares… THE BILLS WON!!!!

    2-0 BABY

  9. wwwmattcom says: Sep 19, 2011 8:52 AM

    As a Bills fan thinking about the final :14 s. still makes me nervous. Hats off to the Raiders and Raider nation. Good luck next week, see you in the playoffs…eventually..ha.

  10. nesuperfan says: Sep 19, 2011 8:56 AM

    I thought they should have tried the FG.

  11. nomoreseasontix says: Sep 19, 2011 8:57 AM

    Young lance Kiffin got fired for that…

  12. NFLJunkie says: Sep 19, 2011 9:16 AM

    Making a 70-yarder in high altitude in warm-ups with no one trying to block the kick, or once trying a ridiculously long 76-yd FG before halftime (which was about 12-14 yards short, by the way) is no reason to question the decision here.

    Not so easy to get record-breaking distance when you actually have to kick it over 11 other guys. There’s a reason The Polish Cannon has been in the league this long and it took him until last week to even boot a record-tying 63-yarder, which *maybe* had another yard or two of clearance, even under kicker-friendly conditions.

    Be serious.

  13. thephantomstranger says: Sep 19, 2011 9:21 AM

    The Hail Mary sometimes works. The 64-yard field goal has never worked. What makes you think a 73-yard attempt is a higher percentage play?

  14. keepounding1234 says: Sep 19, 2011 9:22 AM

    A hail mary works once a year league wide. A 73 yard field goal has never been made in the entire history of professional football.
    Hmmm. I see your point.

  15. lunarpie says: Sep 19, 2011 9:23 AM

    Are you dumb or just plain old stupid?

  16. mrw423 says: Sep 19, 2011 9:25 AM

    That is some pretty poor analysis. The 76 yarder wasn’t anywhere close to making it.

    The Raiders were trying to get into range for the field goal but their one pass was broken up.

    You mention the concept of Hal Mary’s only work once a year at best but how many times has a 76 yard field goal worked?

    Your rationale that this would have been acceptable despite NOT being at Mile-High stadium is that the Raiders tried something longer and it completely failed?

    Seriously, think about what you’re saying at least a LITTLE bit before you post.

    You say people accuse you of being down on the Raiders, well, with articles like this that state they should have gone with a 73 yard field goal because Mail Mary’s don’t work much is a pretty terrible argument.

  17. Keyser Söze says: Sep 19, 2011 9:38 AM

    Woulda, coulda, shoulda….whatever. Bills win. Time to move on…

  18. Joseph says: Sep 19, 2011 9:41 AM

    I thought the Raiders would go for a 10-12 yard play given that they had 6 seconds left and a timeout. If they could have done that then it gives Janikowski a chance to kick a 60-65 yard FG to tie the game. Yeah it’s a long FG but if there’s ANYONE that can do it it’s him.

  19. joetoronto says: Sep 19, 2011 9:41 AM

    I was hoping they’d make it to mid field, which would have been a 67 yd FG. I would have chosen that rather than the Hail Mary.

    From where they were though, they made the right call.

    By the way, Lance Kiffin had a timeout in his pocket and watched the clock run down before trying that 76 yard FG. He knew it was too far, but his objective was to screw the team.

  20. dukemarc says: Sep 19, 2011 9:43 AM

    Wait, when did we stop calling him, “The Roofie Wrangler”?

  21. rubbernilly says: Sep 19, 2011 9:49 AM

    Generally, I agree with the people that say that a field goal over 63 yards has never been made, whereas a hail mary occasionally works… so the hail mary was called for.

    However, let me bring up the little used rule of the fair catch kick. Now, I didn’t watch the game so this may not apply… but with a kicker like Janikowski it is a rule the Raiders to do well to keep in their back pocket for times when it *would* apply.

    So, *if* the Raiders received the ball via a punt and their returner called for a fair catch at that spot, the Raiders could have lined up for an uncontested try for a field goal. In other words, no 11 guys trying to block it, and no worry that you’d have to drive it low to get it there.

    Like I said, I didn’t watch the game, so I don’t know if this applies, but you can see what a weapon this might be for the Raiders, with a kicker who, without someone trying to block his kick, might be able to make it from 70-ish.

  22. oaklegend says: Sep 19, 2011 9:50 AM

    I think you have to take into account what we know happened as a result of the unsuccessful hail mary, the fact that they spent 15 minutes reviewing this play testifies to the fact that it was very close to being successful, and would’ve won the game. Janikowski attempting a 73 yard field would not then given the Raiders a better chance at a win. The only way to know for sure is to hop into the time machine and see. Worthless over-the-shoulder speculation.

  23. Derty Ernie says: Sep 19, 2011 9:53 AM

    I hope the commish ponders Pryors request for reinstatement, oh say three more weeks and then says you win.
    I’m sure he has got to be chomping at the bit because Cambell is playing well and not hurt and two his nemesis Newton will be the rookie of the year and is way out in front of Pryor getting any attention.

  24. Stiller43 says: Sep 19, 2011 9:59 AM

    That’s correct, but as Elliott pointed out when I raised the same question, Janikowski attempted a 76-yarder in Oakland on September 28, 2008, before halftime of a game against the Chargers. Though the kick was no good, the question becomes whether the chances of making a very long field goal were greater than the chances of converting on a Hail Mary pass, which maybe works once a year on a league-wide basis.

    …so…to you, a one in a 256 game instance is less probable than something than a FG thats 9 more yards than one that has EVER been made in the history of football?

    That makes sense.

  25. egomaniac247 says: Sep 19, 2011 10:00 AM

    This is one of the silliest bit of analysis I’ve seen on the site.

    A 73 yard FG with rushers….when he tried a 70 yarder and came up short in the past….

    As opposed to the hail mary that ALMOST WORKED if you watched the game. Seriously, the guy picked it off but when he came down with the ball, there was another Raider right there scrapping with it for him.

    It was the right choice. If you want to say what they “should” have done, then they SHOULD have managed the clock slightly better because they had 14 seconds and only got it to the 50 yard line or wherever he threw from. 10 more yards would have set up Janikowski for a makeable 60 yarder.

    Regardless, this is a pretty silly post. Like someone else said, had they tried the SEVENTY THREE yard field goal and he dropped it 5-7 yards short in the endzone you’d be posting today about how they were stupid for kicking it and should have thrown it because “Jason Campbell has the arm to make that throw”

  26. paintan8 says: Sep 19, 2011 10:04 AM

    What a completely stupid opinion. That ball was almost caught and could have very well been wrestled away from the Bills’ defender. Mr. Ecstasy would have never made a kick from that far. 65 yards is his absolute limit. If they had tried the kick and missed badly, this same person would be blasting the Raiders for trying such an unmakable kick when they have a QB with the arm to throw it deep.

  27. bloggingpoodlewalker says: Sep 19, 2011 10:18 AM

    And when that ridiculous kick was tried, the headline here would have been much different,..youve fooled nobody.

  28. realitypolice says: Sep 19, 2011 10:20 AM

    The 63 yard kick last week cleared the uprights by maybe a yard.

    Let’s not get carried away with how far the “Polish Cannon” can kick it.

  29. tatum064 says: Sep 19, 2011 10:30 AM

    flbills says:
    Sep 19, 2011 8:34 AM
    Yeah, maybe the raiders could use him on defense too. Fitz dissected them for 5 TDs in 2nd half.

    I didn’t think the raiders were for real!

    Go Bills!!
    ======================
    In the first half, I didnt think the Bills were real, either…and neither did you. The McFadden fumble completely changed the momentum of the game.

    Go Raiders!!

  30. billsfan1 says: Sep 19, 2011 10:39 AM

    maybe if the raiders d back intercepts that pass at the end, or maybe if campbell gets them closer on that final drive or maybe if the bills get a td instead of that first field goal or maybe if the field goal doesnt get blocked? see my point….

    lots of woulda, coulda, shoulda but the fact is, this was a fantastic offensive game and a terrible defensive game. somebody had to win and it almost literally came to the team with the last possession…… the Afc better watch out cause these are two teams on the rise, maybe not this year but it will happen…

    on a side note: why dont they just get rid of kickoffs altogether. teams are generally starting between the 15 and 25 anyways… just do the little loop thing and start at the 20 (dont u agree they need the kick off back at the 30?)

  31. nesuperfan says: Sep 19, 2011 11:12 AM

    To those, who say it has never been done, could it be because it has simply never been tried?

    Most teams do not have a guy, who could come close, so they should not try. This guy was making them only 3 yards short in practice a week prior. That seems like a pretty good chance, and can’t be compared to history that may not fit this case.

  32. nflofficeadmin says: Sep 19, 2011 11:27 AM

    If he misses the 70 yarder to stop calling him Polish Cannon and start calling him Polish Sausage… C’mon.

  33. kevinfromphilly says: Sep 19, 2011 11:33 AM

    Sh!t, for a second, I thought you were talking about Ron Jaworski.

  34. firstclasspack says: Sep 19, 2011 11:44 AM

    Mike, I usually would defend your opinions because I like your insight and generally agree with you. Not this time!

    If it was last week in Denver, with the thin air…Maybe, but probably not.

    In Bufallo, not even a consideration. The only reasonable option was the Hail Mary.

    Mike, keep don’t quit your day job and try to be an NFL Head Coach if you are going to make decisions like that.

  35. favreforever says: Sep 19, 2011 11:56 AM

    Of course they should have. Do bears poop in the woods? Is the Placekicker Polish?

  36. raiders757 says: Sep 19, 2011 12:18 PM

    wwwmattcom says: Sep 19, 2011 8:52 AM

    As a Bills fan thinking about the final :14 s. still makes me nervous. Hats off to the Raiders and Raider nation. Good luck next week, see you in the playoffs…eventually..ha.

    ———————————————–

    You were nervous?! Think about us Raider fans. The Raider defense hadn’t made a single play in the second half, and had one last chance to redeem themselves. The delay in running that last fourth and goal play of the Bills gave me heartburn. I was a bundle of nerves, and it seemed like an eternity. I had to run to the store and buy some Prilosec after the game. I’m not kidding.

    Anyhow, it was a fun game to watch, despite bad defense on both sides of the ball. The Bills and Raiders fans were treated to an entertaining emotional roller coaster ride, and somebody had to win. Sadly it wasn’t my Raiders, and yes mattcom, hopefully we’ll see you in the playoffs.

    Good luck to the Bills and their fans for the rest of the season.

  37. raiders757 says: Sep 19, 2011 12:20 PM

    @ billsfan1

    Well said!!

  38. Mr. Wright 212 says: Sep 19, 2011 1:42 PM

    I agree. A FG ties it. From 70 yards, he was a 33% chance. That Hail Mary, while a great throw, had a 10% chance.

  39. pitch87mph says: Sep 19, 2011 1:56 PM

    As someone who’s attended a lot of Bills games over the years and played some baseball there, good luck! The ball doesn’t carry very well in Buffalo. With a good wind behind it, there’d be a chance–especially for Sebastian. But given the issues in the Bills secondary, the Hail Mary had just about as much chance.

  40. radrntn says: Sep 19, 2011 2:16 PM

    it’s funny how all the people are saying couldn’t happen in Buffalo, yet he nailed a 65 yarder in the pre game warm up. (he didn’t try any longer)

    Fact is Hue Jackson tried to get one last play in with 9 seconds to go, that would have picked up about 5 to 6 yards. There is no doubt he would have gone for it then, as that is what he was trying to do.

    Bottom line props to the bills. Raiders d did not have a great second half. But 5 first downs by penalty, all of which occured on third and long hurt more then anything. Bill’s O-line did a great job, and not a single holding call all day. I guess next week we really get to see what both of these teams are made of as we play the jets, and the bills get the pats.

  41. granadafan says: Sep 19, 2011 2:32 PM

    The Raiders made the right call. Give yourself a better chance of winning than a 70 + yard kick. This topic is just pointless and unrealistic Monday morning quarterback talk.

  42. str8up12 says: Sep 19, 2011 5:59 PM

    Really, isn’t the question, why didn’t Jason campbell throw an 8 yard slant have the receiver take the knee and call a timeout? Instead of take the snap , pat the ball and throw a comeback on the sideline. Poor Qb play and poor situational coaching.

  43. nomesayin says: Sep 19, 2011 7:59 PM

    They should have benched McClain, Johnson, & Branch at halftime. THAT might have helped. They were AWFUL!

  44. raiderapologist says: Sep 19, 2011 8:54 PM

    realitypolice says: Sep 19, 2011 10:20 AM

    The 63 yard kick last week cleared the uprights by maybe a yard.
    Let’s not get carried away with how far the “Polish Cannon” can kick it.

    He kicked that one low. If it was under 70 yards and the weather was good, it might be worth a try. At 73, the hail is a better call.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!