Trailing by 11 factors late within the fourth quarter, Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule did one thing uncommon. He kicked a discipline objective… on first down.
Here is the state of affairs: Down 24-13, Carolina confronted third-and-1 at its personal 45-yard line. Teddy Bridgewater fired a slant to huge receiver D.J. Moore, who was hit by three Packers without delay simply past the 50. However Moore bounced proper off all three gamers and scooted downfield for what ultimately turned a 40-yard acquire — the Panthers’ longest play of the night time.
He went out of bounds on the Inexperienced Bay 15 with 2:08 on the clock.
That is when Rhule determined to ship kicker Joey Slye onto the sphere for a 33-yard kick. Slye knocked the ball via the uprights with 2:04 remaining, slicing the Inexperienced Bay result in 24-16.
Slye booted the following kickoff via the tip zone. The Packers ran one play earlier than the two-minute warning and gained seven yards. They ran Aaron Jones into the road for a one-yard loss on second down, after which the Panthers used their last timeout. Brian Burns then screamed across the edge for a sack on third down, and the Panthers obtained the ball again with 55 seconds on the clock, needing to go 80 yards for a game-tying rating (and two-point conversion).
Carolina’s last drive finally went nowhere, however Rhule’s gambit was an fascinating one nonetheless.
So, why did the Panthers play it that manner, and had been they proper to take action, no matter whether or not the gambit really “labored?”
Let’s first notice that the Panthers solely had one timeout remaining. With simply over 2 minutes left within the sport, they most likely solely had time to run one play — perhaps two — earlier than kicking in the event that they needed to protect the “additional” timeout the two-minute warning afforded them. (It is value noting that given the way in which they performed it, they ended up getting precisely what they needed.) Any skilled Madden participant will let you know that field-goal-before-touchdown is usually the way in which to go in these late-game conditions, however there’s normally much less time left on the clock when pursuing that technique. Going for the kick earlier than the two-minute warning may be pushing it.
Taking a shot or two on the finish zone clearly had benefit, too, particularly as a result of the Panthers made only a few forays into the purple space all night. In the event you get that shut, why not strive for six and make the sport as shut as attainable? There’s additionally the truth that in case you miss the two-point conversion, you are going to want an additional rating, and also you’d somewhat know that as early as attainable.
However there was additionally no assure the Panthers would have made it into the tip zone in any respect in the event that they tried for the landing as an alternative of kicking away; and in the event that they did not, they won’t have had sufficient time on the clock to get the ball again after a kickoff. At the least, not in the event that they kicked deep, as they ended up doing within the precise sport.
There was additionally the choice to strive an onside kick, although, both after the sphere objective or after making an attempt for a landing and both succeeding or kicking a discipline objective with much less time on the clock. That is one other likelihood to get the ball for a second time in an try to tie or win the sport.
Moreover, if the Panthers tried to get in the long run zone and truly succeeded, they could have solely wanted a discipline objective on their last drive somewhat than a landing, relying on what occurred with the two-point conversion. In the event that they obtained there on their first strive, they could have even nonetheless had the two-minute warning left to cease the clock. If not, they could have had much less time on the clock, however maybe that might have motivated them to strive an onside kick, which may have resulted in higher discipline place for his or her last drive than they really ended up with.
All of that is to say, it was a particularly difficult resolution, with a complete lot of competing components. The Panthers performed it the way in which they needed and obtained the correct sequence of occasions, however did not find yourself with the ability to put collectively a game-tying drive in the long run. Would issues have labored out otherwise in the event that they tried to get the landing first? We’ll by no means know, clearly. However there was a fairly legitimate motive to play it the way in which they did, even when it solely partially labored.