Mike Smith defends decision to attempt field goal

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With 2:24 left to play Thursday night against the New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons were trailing 17-13 and facing a 4th and 15 from the Saints’ 34-yard line.

Falcons head coach Mike Smith elected to try a 52-yard field goal from kicker Matt Bryant to pull within one with all three timeouts remaining and the two-minute warning to stop the clock. However, the plan went off the rails when Bryant missed the field goal.

Smith had plenty of reasons to attempt the field goal. Bryant had missed just one field goal this season and a usually shaky Falcons’ defense had held the Saints to just 17 points and 17 first downs before their final possession. Smith believed it was the right decision to take the points and hope his defense could get the ball back over the odds of converting a 4th and long.

“There’s not a whole lot of fourth-and-fourteens,” Smith said. “We felt like the field goal – I believe we had around two minutes and 28 seconds – so we had a timeout before the two-minute (warning), use the two-minute as a timeout and we’re going to have an opportunity to get the ball back with the offense to only have to kick a field goal to win. Matt Bryant has kicked a lot of clutch field goals for us and given us an opportunity.”

The Saints called a timeout to ice Bryant and he hooked his attempt wide left. It kept the Falcons needing a touchdown to win if they could get the ball back. Ultimately, they weren’t able to get the ball back until less than 10 seconds remained.

21 responses to “Mike Smith defends decision to attempt field goal

  1. 4th and 15 against the number 4 pass D in the league in FG range, you take the FG. The falcons D had been stopping the saints a few times so with 3 timeouts and the two minute warning you kick the FG and play D or kick an onside. You don’t exactly plan to miss the FG.

  2. It was the right choice. It was 4th and 15! Bryant just didn’t come through. If it were 4th & 2 however this would be a different story.

    I still can’t believe the Falcons are this bad tho.

  3. Shouldn’t have to defend much here. The conversion rate of 4th and 15 isn’t good. Can’t fault him here.

  4. Credit Matt Bryant for getting the Falcons ever closer to winning the Jadeveon Clowney derby. Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff can just taste him, seeing a San Antonio Spurs-like tanking with the absent & injured David Robinson to acquire Tim Duncan. Parity can be a wonderful thing.

  5. yeah its not easy to make 4th and 15,ever! Had they tried to we’d be talking about ‘why would they not attempt a field goal with 2:28 left with a time out’ etc

  6. If the refs would’ve called the closeline on Ryan earlier then it might have been a tied game at that point. But like everything else this season, just another loss.

  7. Same critics are the guys who crap on Belichick for going for it on fourth and 2 in Indy.

    Can’t give guys like Brees and Manning the ball back with less than 3 minutes to go.

  8. Smith’s decision to opt for the FG instead putting all his eggs in the 4th and 15 prayer made sense. The Falcons had 3 timeouts and the 2MW effectively gave him 4. Smith’s risk/reward assessment was spot on.

    Unfortunately, his notably reliable PK had a very rare miss indoors – which predictably opened up the doors for the 20/20 hindsight rabble to try to sound smart after the game.

  9. I like Mike, but when you’re 2-8, you have to go for it on 4th down. The game was over when he made that bad decision.

  10. Smith can’t catch a break. It seems he’s always faced with a critical 4th down against the Saints and I can’t remember one working out in his favor. The most memorable being the 4th & less than a yard on their own 29 in OT a couple of years ago at home. That was a tough miss.

  11. It gave everyone something to talk about but let’s be honest, in reality the Falcons were not going to win this game.

    I did feel bad for the little boy holding up the RISE UP! towel though.
    It’s sad that he will never be able to root for a championship team as long as he’s in Atlanta. :**(

  12. When analyzing this decision, you have to take field position into account. Missing the field goal leaves the opponent in better position than they would be in after an incomplete pass — or, for that matter, after a completed pass that falls short of the yards needed for a first down.

    If the idea is to rely on your defense to get another stop, don’t make them defend a shorter field.

    “Take the points” might make sense earlier in the game. But with 2:28 remaining in the game, there was a strong possibility that the Falcons would not get the ball again. So “Go for the win” was the correct maxim in this situation.

    Coaching fail.

  13. It was the right choice because the way the oline was playing. Ryan would not have had time to convert a 4th and 8 let alone 4th n 15

  14. Saints fans – since you know his habits, was Payton icing the kicker ? I thought he might have called the TO more to make sure his D was set for a possible fake; icing a veteran like Bryant doesn’t seem like it would be worth it.

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