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NY Jets: Should They Have Kicked Field Goals in the Fourth Quarter?

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Twice in last night's fourth quarter, the Jets went for it on fourth down and were stopped when in field goal range. In a game the team eventually lost by 5 points, this has the potential to bring some criticism since a pair of field goals would have resulted in 6 points. Were the Jets wrong to bypass the points? Let's take a look at the two situations.

Bills 22 Jets 10; 4th quarter; 14:57;  4th and 2; BUF 20

Bills 22 Jets 17; 4th quarter; 3:02; 4th and 4; BUF 7

I think it is easy to look back and say 6 points would have won the game, but you have to judge coaching decisions within the context of the game situation at that time. On the first one, the Jets were down by two scores in the fourth quarter. A field goal would have kept them down by two scores. At that point of the game, they really needed a score that would move the needle. This is even before we talk about the fact the team was breaking in a new kicker on a bad weather night or how the Jets had the Bills on their heels at that point and were moving the ball.

On the second one, the Jets had a shot to win the game and take it. There was no guarantee they would get another opportunity like that. As it turned out, the defense was not able to get the ball back until there were 24 seconds left and they had burned all of their timeouts. And going for it in that spot gave them a greater margin for error. Essentially it gave them two chances to win the game, either connecting on that play or getting a stop and scoring. Kicking the field goal means you only have one chance, getting the stop and scoring, which they failed to do anyway.

I find it kind of funny to hear the coaching staff criticized for these decisions, particularly the second one, given the blowback from last week when the Jets did not attack before the half against the Jaguars. After that game, I heard a lot of comments to the effect of the coaching staff was too conservative, and Bill Belichick always plays to win. I agreed with those comments. In this game, the coaching staff played to win. The Jets just did not make the plays. It was a shame.