Why did the Packers kick? Matt LaFleur garners criticism for late fourth-quarter field goal

matt-lafleur-FTR
(Getty Images)

It wasn't a bold strategy, Cotton, and it didn't pay off for them.

It wasn't Peter La Fleur, but rather Matt LaFleur (no relation) who baffled inquiring minds during the NFC championship game on Sunday afternoon. Facing a 31-23 deficit with just over two minutes left in regulation, the Packers coach elected to go for a field goal rather than trying to tie the game up at 31 with a touchdown and 2-point conversion. Green Bay never got the ball back after a Mason Crosby chip shot, and the Buccaneers walked away with a 31-26 win.

MORE: Buccaneers' Leonard Fournette scores "Grown Man Touchdown"

The decision was met with criticism all over, labeling LaFleur and the Packers as, well, less-than-gutsy for the decision.

Why did the Packers choose to kick a field goal?

Following the game, LaFleur opted to defend the decision not to go for it. The Green Bay head coached cited the team's inability to move the ball plus the amount of timeouts the team had — to presumably stop the Brady-led offense and get the ball back — as the reasons why.

According to advanced win probability stats (via ESPN's Seth Walder), the decision to go for it in that position just barely edged out the decision to kick the field goal.

Assuming the Packers score there, they would have needed the 2-point conversion for the tie, meaning it's essentially anyone's ballgame after that point. The Packers and LaFleur, knowing they had three timeouts and the 2-minute warning in their pocket (four clock stoppages), likely felt the field goal was the safer route.

Consider the outcomes:

  • Packers score a touchdown, don't convert on 2-point conversion: 31-29, need a stop and field goal
  • Packers score a touchdown, convert on 2-point conversion: 31-31, need a stop and field goal or go to overtime
  • Packers kick the field goal: 31-26, need a stop and touchdown

The outcomes are all there and pretty obvious, so this begs this question: Why go for it?

LaFleur will have some questions to answer postgame.

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