Was It A Mistake For The Colts To Throw For The End Zone?

FOXBORO MA - NOVERMBER 21: James Sanders #36 of the New England Patriots intercepts a pass in the fourth quarter as Pierre Garcon #85 of the Indianapolis Colts looks on at Gillette Stadium on November 21 2010 in Foxboro Massachusetts. The Patriots won 31-28. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

It was a bad case of deja vu for me when Peyton Manning was intercepted inside the 10 yard line last night, killing the Colts chances of a miraculous comeback.  Three weeks ago, I sat in Notre Dame Stadium and saw the same exact thing happen:  Ball well in Field Goal range, very good kicker (ND kicker is 19/19 on the season), and an interception is thrown when a FG would win the game (ND was down only 1).

The biggest difference, however, was the guy under center.  ND had a true freshman QB, playing the first significant time in his college career, throwing into the end zone.  The Colts had potentially the greatest QB to ever play the game.  In one case, the decision to throw was inexplicable dumb.  The other was the correct call, and I would advocate for it again and again.

The old adage is "You play for the tie at home, and for the win on the road", which is exactly what the Colts did yesterday.  The Colts had back-to-back 73 yard touchdown drives in the 4th quarter, and had moved the ball for a third time, inside the 25.  It was absolutely the correct call to try and score a touchdown to win the game.  Going to overtime would have been a semi-win for the Patriots, as they would have held the Colts to a Field Goal on the last drive.  Obviously, the Patriots did one better.

Could a different play been called?  Sure.  There was still 40 seconds left, and still had 2 timeouts left.  Maybe a draw or "safer" pass could have been called, but Manning looked to be going for the kill on the first play, trying to hit the Patriots defense one play after a long gain.  It's almost always a good idea to take a shot like that when the defense is clearly on their heels.  The fact that the outcome was undesirable should have no bearing on the decision.

As long as Peyton Manning is under center, you never "settle" for a field goal when a touchdown is reachable.

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