On Sunday in the Super Bowl, on the game's biggest stage, the Seattle Seahawks made what many have called the worst play call in NFL history when they opted to pass the ball instead of run the ball, a decision that likely cost them the Super Bowl.
The situation? The Seahawks were down four points and faced a second and goal situation from the one-yard line. The Patriots weren't using their timeouts for some stupid reason, so a score by Seattle would all but clinch the Super Bowl title. The Sehawks still had timeouts left and one of the game's best running backs in Marshawn Lynch. And instead of giving the running back the football, they opted to throw the ball. Intercepted. Patriots win.
The play call has almost unanimously been criticized, and for good reason, as it certainly was one of the dumbest calls ever and a case of coaches over-thinking things.
I thought it would be interesting, in light of the attention given to the Seahawks' play call from the one yard line, to look at every play the Colts had at the one yard line this year and see what they tended to do. Note that I think even the Colts would have run the ball in the situation the Seahawks were in on Sunday, and also note that in none of the occasions this season were the Colts in the scenario the Seahawks were in. But it's fun to look at.
The Colts in fact ran 15 plays from the one yard line this season, and their play calling was about split between runs (7) and passes (8). Here's a chart of each of the plays the Colts ran from the one yard line in the 2014 season.
|DEN||4TH||Luck sneak for -1 yard||NO|
|PHI||4TH||Luck to Bradshaw short right for TD||YES|
|JAX||2ND||Luck to Allen for TD||YES|
|JAX||1ST||Trent Richardson for no gain||NO|
|JAX||2ND||Trent Richardson for no gain||NO|
|JAX||3RD||Luck to Nicks for TD||YES|
|TEN||1ST||Trent Richardson for TD||YES|
|CIN||2ND||Ahmad Bradshaw for TD||YES|
|NE||2ND||Ahmad Bradshaw for no gain||NO|
|NE||3RD||Luck to Castonzo for TD||YES|
|JAX||3RD||Trent Richardson for TD||YES|
|CLE||1ST||Luck to Hilton for TD||YES|
|DAL||1ST||Hasselbeck short right to Tipton for TD||YES|
|TEN||1ST||Luck short right to Doyle for TD||YES|
|NE||1ST||Zurlon Tipton for TD||YES|
So on eight of the Colts' plays from the one yard line, they passed the football - and they scored eight touchdowns on those plays (seven scoring tosses by Andrew Luck and one by Matt Hasselbeck). On seven of the Colts' plays from the one yard line, they ran the football - and their success rate was much lower, scoring on just three of seven tries. Trent Richardson, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Zurlon Tipton all got one score each in the running game from one yard out.
What does this mean? Not much. Only one of the above plays was in a crucial spot - the score against the Browns that was the game-winner with under a minute left - and even then it wasn't in the situation that the Seahawks were in. Would the Colts have run the football in that situation? My guess is yes, but based on their track record this season, the Colts liked to throw it more than they liked to run it from the one yard line - barely.