How Big a Fool was Bill Belichick Last Night?
In the wake of last night’s New England Patriots’ loss to the Indianapolis Colts, any football fan worth his or her inflated self-certainty has an opinion on the decision of New England’s coach, Bill Belichick, to try to convert a fourth down and run out the clock rather than punt to Peyton Manning’s Colts. The fourth down failed, and Manning and the Colts quickly capitalized on their good field position to win the game.
So how stupid was coach Belichick? Not very. Slightly more than half of fourth-down attempts in the NFL are converted. According to as-yet-unpublished tables in the Book of Odds database, the odds an NFL team will successfully convert on a fourth down attempt are 1 in 1.89. So coach Belichick was adding those odds to the odds that, should the conversion fail, the Patriots’ defense would still stop the Colts. He made his decision. And the Colts won.