One Brad Childress coaching move from yesterday’s painful loss to the Patriots warrants further discussion: his decision to go for the touchdown instead of the field goal with a little over a minute left in the second quarter.
The situation set up this way: The score was 7-7. The Vikings had just gotten 10 yards on a Toby Gerhart reception on 3rd-and-11, and now faced 4th-and-goal from the 1. They called time out to stop the clock at 1:07. Obviously, a field goal here gives you the lead, but you then have to kick it away to the Patriots who will have about a minute left on the clock. Keep in mind that, up till now, the Patriots hadn’t done much on offense.
The argument in favor of going for the touchdown goes like this: We’re on the 1 and we have Adrian Peterson. We’re on the road and we need to be aggressive. Even if we get the field goal, there’s a chance the Pats could get the ball back after the kickoff and get the 3 right back.
The argument in favor of going for the field goal goes like this: We’re on the road and we need all the points we can get. We’ve been burned on things like this in the recent past. We’ve stuffed the Pats’ offense all half, except for one wacky play from Tom Brady to Brandon Tate where Madieu Williams should’ve had the pick, so there’s no reason for us to believe they’re going to get the kickoff and march down the field.
Brad Childress runs all this through the great calculating machine known as his mind and comes up with the answer: we go for the touchdown.
Predictably, Adrian Peterson gets the hand-off (no chance of a play-action lob to Visanthe Shiancoe?). Instead of running left behind their Hall-of-Famer Steve Hutchinson, the Vikings go right. Peterson gets stuffed for a 2-yard loss. The Pats get the ball back. They kneel on it to end the half tied.
After the game, Childress explained his thinking. He said he thought they needed sevens instead of threes (not exactly a ringing endorsement of the defense). He said he thought the play was well-blocked. I’ve never heard of a well-blocked 2-yard loss in my life, but whatever you say Childress.
Perhaps most damningly of all, Randy Moss brought up the decision not to take the 3 points in his own weird, Vikings-bashing post-game rant. I call this Moss indictment damning because you know that if Randy is saying it, other guys are saying it or at least thinking it. Of course this is all second-guessing. Had Peterson somehow made the touchdown, we might be patting Childress on his back for his guts right now rather than once again questioning his decision-making. All I know is, when you’re struggling, you have to take the points. There’s aggressiveness and then there’s foolishness.