Dan Quinn defends his decision on late field goal


With his team trailing 17-13 and facing fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line with three minutes to play on Sunday, Falcons coach Dan Quinn made a surprising decision: He kicked a field goal rather than going for the touchdown.

As it turned out, that decision didn’t work. The Falcons’ defense couldn’t stop the 49ers’ offense on the next possession, and the 49ers ran out the clock to win 17-16.

But Quinn isn’t willing to concede that he made the wrong decision. After the game, he defended his call.

“I chose to kick it there,” Quinn said. “Thought we were getting the stops defensively, we’d get the kick, get stops, use our timeouts and then go attack on offense. We’re a really good two minute team on offense. So, that was the reasoning for it. We didn’t stop them on the third down, they converted. Really that’s where the game took place, so I wanted to make sure I explained our thinking going into that one.”

Quinn says his decision shouldn’t be seen as a lack of confidence in his offense’s ability to gain a yard when they need a yard.

“The way I chose to do it in that one was to, ‘Let’s kick it, get the stop.’ I felt like we were stopping defensively and we’d go stop it again and go win it that way,” Quinn said. “Looking back, yeah, it’s always a chance to second guess. You have two ways to go win it, go try and get it right there, kick, get another stop and then go down. So, could have went either way. I chose to go the way to kick it and get a stop and go win it in two minute. I just have such belief in our guys both offensively and defensively.”

That explanation won’t sit well with a lot of Falcons fans, who think that if the coach has such belief in his guys, he should believe in them to score the game-winning touchdown from the 1-yard line. Quinn can defend his call, but it was the wrong call.

76 responses to “Dan Quinn defends his decision on late field goal

  1. Gotta love the blatant double standard. Miami’s coaches goes for a TD, doesn’t make it and gets ripped in the media for not kicking. This dude kicks and gets ripped for not going for it.

  2. In my view it is a bad decision. Even if ATL fail converting to TD on 4th and goal and come up empty, you can still stop SF with the timeout ,2 mt warning etc and get the ball back and score and win the game. You will have a better field position in this case as well assuming you stop the 49ers.

  3. Unfortunately, most NFL coaches would have made the same choice because “it has always been done this way” even though there is ample data to show it is almost always the lowest probability of winning.

  4. I have so much faith in my offense. So much so, that I determined that they couldn’t get one yard with Julio Jones, Matt Ryan and DeVonta Freeman.

    What a load of crap. The reason he begged off WAS indeed related to confidence – but rather than an abundance of it, it was a glaring LACK of it.


  5. Even if you don’t get it, they get the ball on the 1. How is that not the easy answer, every single time?

  6. Peculiar decision, since he has a couple of weapons on offense. He should defend his call, though. If it worked out, no one would be talking about this. Since it didn’t, people are.

  7. Horrible decision on your part Dan. Get the yard and the win. If for some reason you don’t get the yard you have inexperienced SF offense backed up on the 1 yard line and will get the ball back anyway. Terrible decision

  8. Anddddddddd, if he went for it and failed, he would have been vilified by the media for making the wrong decision.

  9. I understand that line of thinking … but why risk something like that? I would rather go for it from the 1. If you failed, you did everything you could to win. And if you trust your defense that much, you could go for the safety if you fail to convert.

  10. If they went for it on 4th down and failed, they’d have had the 49ers backed up on their own 1 and an excellent chance to get the ball back again in good field position to try to score the game winning TD.

    Oh well.

  11. “Quinn can defend his call, but it was the wrong call.”

    That’s easy to say after the fact when your sitting at home in your living room. It’s a judgement call. Obviously if you play good defense, which it was a defensive game, you get the ball back with Matt Ryan only needing a fg. Obviously it didn’t work out so even if he would had went for it and still didn’t get it you could go the other way with it.

  12. I understand the thinking, but his odds were far better to have gone for it at that point. If they failed on 4th down they would have given the ball to a poor offensive team with a green qb ON THE 1 YARD LINE. And that was a worst case scenario with a td being a pretty realistic outcome as well. Defense would have had to stop in worst case scenario, and his decision took the best case scenario out of play. He should have had two bullets in that spot, he chose to have one.

  13. More bad football being played in 2015 than good football.

    (16) half the NFL is below .500
    5 more teams at right at .500
    8 teams are above .500 but have at least one loss.
    3 undefeated teams.

    11 of the 32 teams are above .500.

    1/3rd of the NFL is competitive.

  14. I’d have more respect for him (or anyone for that matter) if they’d just man-up and admit they screwed up. Doubling down on one’s screw up doesn’t work. Ever.

  15. Oh-oh, yes I’m the great pretender
    Pretending that I’m doing well
    My need is such I pretend too much

    Read more: The Platters – The Great Pretender Lyrics | MetroLyrics

  16. Should have went for the score. Even if they didn’t make it, backing the 49ers up on the goalline would have ensured that you just had to stop the run a couple times and get the ball back at/near midfield.

  17. Tough call. On the road and running game getting nothing. Based on the three straight pass attempts with that much time remaining it looks like he was playing for the field goal and keeping as much time on the clock as possible for a later field goal attempt.

    To be a good coach in this league, you have to know if you are going for it on 4th down before you snap the first down play in that series. I don’t think he knew. And the great coaches develop a series of plays that if a 4th down occurs, they go for it and get it into the end zone.

    I mean lets be real. If you believe in your defense to stop the Niners from the their 20 after an ensuing kickoff, why wouldn’t you believe in them to defend from the Niner 4 and give you a short field if the 4th and goal attempt fails?

  18. Horrible decision. This coach doesnt understand the math.

    The odds of making two yards to win the game ARE MUCH GREATER than:

    1) kicking a field goal (nothing is automatic)
    2) Stopping the other team from getting any first downs
    while preserving your timeouts.
    3) Going probably 50 yards after a punt to get in position to score

  19. Absolutely incompetent call that shows he has no confidence in his offense. Given that lack of confidence, he made a choice that then required BOTH the offense and defense to come through.

    If they go for it and score, then SF needs a TD to win. Worst case would have been OT.

  20. His reasoning is completely backwards, isn’t it?

    If you trust your defense to get a stop, wouldn’t you trust them even more to get a stop with the opposition backed up against their own goal line (assuming you don’t score)? And if you trust your offense enough to drive for a winning FG in a two-minute scenario, wouldn’t you trust them even more to get a yard?

    It seems fairly obvious to me that your chances of scoring a TD from the 1 are greater than your chances of getting two field goals sandwiched around a defensive stop.

  21. When you are at the one yard line with that little time left, you are in control of the game. You have the ball and if you go for it, you know one of two things is gong to happen, notwithstanding something crazy like a fumble recovery and a 99 yard TD the other way. Either you are going to score and go up in the game or not score and have their offense pinned inside the five. Kicking the field goal and giving the ball back on a kick-off allows for all sorts of things to happen, many of them bad. Quinn, showed a lack of confidence not only in his offense to get the yard, but also in his defense to stop the 49ers cold down there, if they didn’t get the score. Just a horrible decision on every front….

  22. chesswhileyouplaycheckers says:
    Nov 9, 2015 11:38 AM
    “Quinn can defend his call, but it was the wrong call.”

    No, it was the wrong result. The logic was sound. MMQB much?

    Nope, the point here is that the logic was not sound. It seems to be sound because the same situation tends to happen over and over again. However, any look at the probabilities based on the situation show that kicking the field goal was the least logical choice (if the overall goal is to win the game).

    However, coaches seem to make these terrible calls based on tradition and faulty logic rather than data driven reality (case in point: freezing the kicker).

  23. “Should have snapped it to a second string safety and had him run around in circles until he was gang tackled.” — Chuck Pagano

  24. Seriously? SF overall has the worst offense in the league. I’d say his logic made
    Sense. They did almost nothing after halftime. I’d say it wasn’t the wrong call, you can 2nd guess all you want but it wasn’t a no brainier to go for it on 4th down

  25. I mean all the Dan Quinn-led defense had to do was stop the Blaine Gabbert-led offense and they’d get the ball back to kick a field goal. But they couldn’t even do that

  26. There was logic to the decision. Yet at the same time it definitely showed a total lack of confidence in his offense. Sometimes you can be right and wrong all at the same time.

  27. That’s the Pete Carroll coaching tree. You throw a pick instead of hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch at the 1 yard line in the Super Bowl and you have coaches who chose to kick a field goal instead of going for the win. Great job Quinn. Carroll taught you well.

  28. Understandable, he was in familiar territory in Santa Clara and thought he had the Seahawks defense.

    Maybe next time.

  29. Everyone loves to scream that Cam Newton is not an elite QB, and their reasoning usually includes a list of those that are elite, and that list always includes Matt Ryan.

    If Matt Ryan is an elite QB, and July Jones is an elite WR, and Devonta Freeman is leading the league in everything a running back does, how could you NOT go for it from the 1?

    This was said earlier, but I’ll repeat it. Your choices are:

    A) Go for it
    B) Kick, try for a defensive stop, then drive 30-50 yards for another kick.

    It’s obvious. You choose A. I know Riverboat Ron would have chosen A.

  30. In my view, as a 49er fan, it really did not matter what decision he made. The Falcons would have lost either way. You go for it on 4th down and don’t make, they would have not been able to stop the 49ers offense; just like they could not do all game long. You go for it and score, then the 49ers have more than enough time to drive down the field for a TD or a game tying field goal to force overtime. The 49ers would have won in OT and we all know that. The Falcons showed there true colors a few weeks ago when they lost to a terrible Saints team and struggled against a Titans and Bucs team. Then they lose to a bad 49ers team who starts a new QB. Falcons should and would have lost no matter what decision the coach would have made, end of discussion.

  31. this was a simple choice to make…13 year old kids make it every day playing Madden, why do coaches who have been in football for years have trouble making these decisions?

  32. Say you go for the TD and you don’t convert; San Fran then has the ball at the 1 with a 4 point lead. At that point, the defense HAS to make a stop fast in order for the offense to get the ball back with enough time to go down and score. This is the WORST CASE SCENARIO for this option.

    Say you kick the FG and make it. You then kick the ball off for a touchback; they start at the 20. You still have to make a stop on D, except in this case you’ve given them 19 additional yards to start with. That’s a big field position advantage right away – the difference between being in and being out of FG range. Now, if you’re fortunate enough to stop them, you have to drive further down the field with less time left, and you STILL NEED to score again to win. That’s the BEST CASE SCENARIO for this option.

    The best case vs. worst case scenario should already tell you what the right decision was. In one case, one thing has to go right and you take the lead (i.e. convert a 4th and 1 to take the lead); in the other case, too much has to go right (kick the fg, maintain disciplined kick coverage, make a defensive stop, drive down the field, kick another fg to take the lead)

    Regardless of which choice was made, the D was going to have to make a stop to win. In one option, you have the chance to either take the lead and then make a stop to seal the game vs. not converting and making a stop on a drive starting from the 1, giving you alright starting position on your next drive with the opportunity to score a TD and win the game.

    In the other option, you either make the FG and then have to drive an additional 19 yards after your stop vs. missing the FG and having to do option 1’s worst case.

    So if both cases share the SAME EXACT worst case scenario, but one of the two ensures taking the lead, which one should you take?

    Especially considering it was just a 4th and 1…

  33. With a rookie HC you need to leave room for learning lessons. They will lose a game here or there as they progress in their role.

    I am confident he learned something yesterday. Given the chance again I’m sure he would go for it.

  34. jjb0811 says: Nov 9, 2015 11:28 AM

    Gotta love the blatant double standard. Miami’s coaches goes for a TD, doesn’t make it and gets ripped in the media for not kicking. This dude kicks and gets ripped for not going for it.

    Big difference in situation. Miami made their decision at the end of the first half, when getting points was important, especially knowing they got the ball to start the second half. Atlanta had 3 minutes left in the game and the FG left them right where they were. Behind.

  35. weepingjebus says:

    “Should have snapped it to a second string safety and had him run around in circles until he was gang tackled.” — Chuck Pagano

    Now that was funny!

  36. It was the wrong call.

    The chances of getting 1 yard and a td are much greater than:

    Kicking the field goal
    Not getting a good return in the ensuing kickoff
    Stopping the offense with enough time on the clock
    Getting the ball back in decent field position
    Getting into field goal range without turning it over
    Kicking another field goal

    As a Seahawks fan I hate to say it but the super bowl call hangover just affected the Falcons.

  37. Listen to all the Madden video gamers saying bad call…get the easy yard and win the game…just like that lame video game where there’s no defense EVER.

    They would not have scored on 4th and goal in that stadium, with the crowd, etc., etc. Kicking the FG keeps the momentum and puts enormous pressure on that scrub Gabbert to pick up game winning first downs.

    The Giants won SBs and were in the playoffs every year playing the strategy of taking points when they’re there and shifting the pressure to those who they knew couldn’t handle it.

    Quinn’s call, while it didn’t work, was sound.

  38. This was an embarrassing decision by the coach and he should be hammered for it. What should be more concerning is how poorly this team has performed over the past month+ now.

  39. If he had gone and got stuffed he would be being ripped for that right now.
    If he had kicked the field goal, held them, then kicked a field goal for the win then he would be considered brilliant.

  40. I don’t what has happened previously during the game, if you are at the one yard line, down by one point, with 3 minutes left to go in the game, you must go for the touchdown. If you kick, you deserve to lose and that is exactly what happened.

  41. It’s because the way they lost to Tampa last week. There they went for it on 4th down and failed. There was much more time left on the clock compared to this scenario. 3 points would have won them that game instead they lost in OT to Tampa. Dan Quinn just psyched himself out, Seattle style.

  42. “Could have went either way”- yes, but statistically speaking, you had the best chance of getting a TD at the 1 yard line, and you chose the opposite course of action that required a whole lot of statistically improbable things to happen.

    May the odds be ever in your favor…. but you have to know them first.

    Kills me every time to see teams 4th and 1 between the 20-30 yard line punting. Why not go for it? Why admit defeat?

  43. Coaches often do this. It’s an illogical choice that always costs them the game.

    You go for it because even if you fail, you have a better shot at winning than kicking two FGs.

    To fail on 4th leaves them on the 1. Just like with the FG attempt, you have to hold them that late in the game. When they punt, you’re receiving the ball on their side of the field needing the TD. By kicking the FG and holding them, you receive the punt at your 30, or worse. You basically still have to drive the same distance for a FG than a TD, and you can miss the FG! Weigh this against trying to get the yard and win the game right there.

    Of course, your not coach material if you can figure this out.

    Of course,

  44. What may be worse than the decision is the fact that Quinn is defending the decision.

    It’s one thing to make dumb decisions once in a while (most coaches do) –
    but to not realize that they are dumb decisions after having time to think about it, well, that’s a bad sign

  45. It’s very, very hard to defend this decision, given how much time was left in the game. If the Falcons had been facing a 4th down and goal from the 15, I could see it.

    Kickding from inside the five yard line doesn’t show much confidence in your offense.

    I’ve said it here before, but the Falcons are my pick to fold in the second half of the season. Based on their play the past two games, they may have already started.

  46. Does it really even matter? You lost to a reeling niner team with Blain Gabbert as the QB…enough said.

  47. Long time Falcons fan. I thought BEFORE the play happened going for it was the right call. If you don’t get it you still need to stop the 49ers three and out. That would have mean the Niners punting from inside their 10 yard line, so Falcons would have still gotten the ball back around midfield with 2 minutes, plenty of time to score a TD. By going for the TD on 4th down it feels like you would have had two chances to win. kicking the FG only gave you one chance to win.

    With that said, the Falcons were terrible last year on both lines. You can’t completely rebuild both lines in one off season. I think Quinn has done a nice job. Most people projected the Falcons to be a 6 or 7 win team, and odds are they will end up with 8 or 9. I think Falcons heading int he right direction.

  48. The 49ers don’t have the strategic option of taking a safety and kicking, because a FG beats them.

    There’s no scenario that justifies this gutless decision. The Falcons are The Falcons Again.

  49. Quinn must have thought Michael Turner was still on the team. Even Mike Smith had the guts to go for it on fourth and one…granted it was on his own 29-yard line, but at least he showed some guts.

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