By Brian Burke
Down by 12 with 4:12 to play, DEN punts on 4th and 8 from the BUF 41. Sure, 4th and 8 seems like a tall order, but DEN was down by 12 points with 4 minutes left! This was a 0.03 WP gift.
On the first drive of the game, STL punts on 4th and 2 from the PIT 48. Although it seems unconventional, it's the percentage play to go for it there. Besides, it's STL. If they have any hope of beating PIT on the road, they were going to have to take some calculated risks. They didn't. 0.03 WP gift.
Up by 4 in the 2nd quarter, NYJ punt on 4th and 1 from the NYG 42. 0.02 WP gift. Touchback. 22 net yards. Sweet. Because, you know, 22 yards (or even 32 yds) is almost impossible for an offense to come by these days.
Tied at 3 in the second quarter, OAK punts on 4th and 1 from the KC 39. They were able to down it at the 5, but OAK wasn't able to make anything of it, failing to score for the rest of the half. This was a 0.06 WP gift.
With 9:35 to play, down by 6, SEA punts on 4th and 1 from the SF 45. This was a 0.08 WP gift. The punt resulted in a touchback, netting 25 yds of field position. SF sure is tough to run on, but the Seahawks are an NFL team, right?
Leading by 6 coming out of the 2 min warning, BAL faced a 4th and 2 from the CLE 37. BAL does the old line-up-&-draw-'em-offside trick. It worked. Rookie Phillip Taylor jumped, erasing the 0.15 WP CLE had left. And yes, it would have been smart for BAL to go for it there. Punting would have been a 0.03 WP gift. I know it's the BAL defense vs the CLE offense. But any offense is dangerous needing a TD with all 4 downs available, not wasting any of them with runs for 2-yd gains. Hey, did anyone see the Thursday night game?
Speaking of the Thursday night game...HOU, up by a point, kicks a FG on 4th and 2 from the IND 13 with 2 min to play. What's the big deal, you ask? It's Dan Orlovsky vs. one of the league's very best defenses. The decision was a 0.09 WP gift, and allowed IND to drive for the game winning TD.
Kicking on 4th down. It's the gift that keeps on giving. And you don't even have to wrap it.