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A Loss That Hurts in More Ways Than One

It was a comeback that should of put them at 4-2 and suddenly in control of the NFC North. Instead the Bears today are again licking their wounds and answering questions of how and why. The team seemed well on their way to what was going to be a huge 20-19 win after Kyle Orton hooked up with Rashied Davis on an amazing TD with 11 seconds left. That’s where the problems started.

The team had been having issues all day on special teams, and the decision was made right away to squib the ensuing kickoff instead of giving a shot to Jerious Norwood, who already had taken a kick back 85 yards, and averaged 44.5 yards on the day in four returns.

The Falcons were ready for the kick, and it was picked up right away by Harry Douglas, who took it 10 yards to the Falcons 44 with six seconds left. Then on first down, Matt Ryan, who had a great day against the Bears, dropped back and looked pressure in the face and fired what was a great throw to Mike Jenkins.

Where was the secondary, and why was Jenkins SO wide open on the play? That is yet another question that the team is going to have to figure out through film. They picked on the secondary all day, and Ryan had his breakout day with 301 yards throwing. Why Jenkins was able to make the catch and not get hammered trying to break up the play was the game-breaker.

The 48-yard field goal by Jason Elam was nothing more than a foot note. You knew that he was going to make it, even more so after he missed the chip shot moments earlier that would have iced the game for the Falcons. Now, the team is right back to .500, and they seem more today like a team with a lot of “what ifs” instead of a team that should be ready for a playoff run in a weak division.

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3 Responses to “A Loss That Hurts in More Ways Than One”

  1. Matt, I thought you would find this interesting. It is part of a post that I put up at Doc’s Sports Blog the debunks three long-held NFL maxims. It illustrates how unbelievable ridiculous a pooch kick in that instant was, not from the standpoint of a bitter, angry Bears fan (which I am), but from the standpoint of cold, hard math. Feel free to repost this as a separate post if you would like. Of if it’s better to simply get over it, leave as is.

    (Damn you, Lovie):

    1) The Pooch Kick.

    There is only one acceptable time for a pooch kick, and even then I’m not a fan of it. If you are in the lead and there are less than five seconds left in the game, go ahead an pooch it. If there are more than five seconds on the clock and you pooch it you are a god damn idiot. Lovie Smith, who is a god damn idiot, proved this point yesterday. But this isn’t an emotional reaction to a failed decision on Sunday. The match clearly supports my case that the pooch kick is absolutely ridiculous.

    In 2007 there were 1,622 total kickoff returns made by the Top 100 return men (according to kickoff return average) in the NFL. Of those more than 1,600 kickoffs just 25 of them were returned for a touchdown. That is just 1.5 percent of the total kicks and you have about a 1-in-100 odds of that happening. Further, of those 1,622 kickoffs just 102 of them were returned for 40 or more yards (that includes the 25 touchdowns). That means that teams have a 6.3 percent chance of returning a kick past their own 40-yard line. And if you even want to narrow the research further – including only the Top 50 kickoff men in the NFL – there were 1,070 total kickoffs and just 80 returns of 40 or more yards (7.5 percent).

    So by pooch kicking you are defending against something that has a less than two percent chance of happening (return for a TD) and something that has about a seven percent chance of happening (return of 40 or more yards). That makes absolutely no sense. But beyond that, the time management aspect doesn’t add up either (especially if there are 15 seconds or less left in the game). It has to take a return man at least seven or eight seconds to catch the ball at or near the goal line and return it to the 45-yard line. And that’s being generous. So if that’s the case, now your opponent has the ball at or near midfield (that is if they managed a 40+ return, which happens once in every 13 kickoffs) but only has time for one, or maybe two, plays. Tops. And, again, that’s generous. But by pooching the ball you give the opponent field position AND more time for more plays. Again – pooch kicks make absolutely zero sense.

    In the case of Chicago, they had just 11 seconds left to kill. If they had simply kicked off – even to a solid return man like Jerious Norwood – he would have likely burned about six or seven seconds getting to around the 35-yard line. Instead they burned just four seconds with a pooch AND gave Atlanta the ball at the 45-yard line. Seven seconds is (clearly) time for two plays. But if they had kicked off and burned six or seven seconds that would have left four or five seconds, and that’s not enough time for two plays.

    Again, the key stat here: Atlanta had a 7-percent chance of a return that would have put them past their own 40-yard line. And even if that 7-percent went there way, there wouldn’t have been time for anything but a Hail Mary.

    (And way to go to the prevent defense again, Lovie. Because that didn’t cost us the Tampa Bay game either. Some defensive mastermind he is. What a clown.)

  2. Rex Jaybels says:

    D-line pressure is sorely lacking from this team when they need it the most. Hopefully Lovie will re-evaluate the play of Izzy and Tommie Harris and make the right call as to who should be getting more snaps.

  3. paul says:

    Mike Ditka for President!

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