"If you go for it and fail..."
That’s the negative thinking that so many coaches fall back on, which prevents them from trying a gamble that should pay off.
I rather like the other option, once the following facts are considered:
1) our rushing offense has been productive all game, gaining 199 yds on the ground.
2) conversely, their run defense is the one that surrendered those 199 to us. This WASN’T the Giants’ defense. The Falcons have one of the lowest ranked run Ds in the league. I’d say odds are in our favor of picking up a yd, especially if we were to stack Hartsock and Tolbert, blocking behind Bell, for example, and hand to Stewart.
3) punting gives them a chance, and their strength is their offense, not their defense. Picking up a yard ices the game, only kneel downs then needed, and they have NO chance.
4) I’d have liked to see Rivera show the confidence in his OL that they can gain a yard when need be – this move shows them no such faith. Give them the CHANCE to show such confidence was deserved.
5) Go for it, and play to win, there and then. Punt, and you’re playing not to lose. Worrying about a fail leads to a fail; having the will to win leads to a win.
6) What’s the worst that could happen, if the run fails? They take over, but still have to produce far more yards, with no TOs left, than we had to. Who’s to say, conclusively, that they would’ve? They wouldn’t, e.g., have thrown the same Hail Mary. Maybe we’d have gotten another sack.
And what’s the best that could happen? We gain the yard, because we’ve got the guts to try it, against a defense we’ve been running over all game, Rivera’s a bold genius, his players on offense all love him, for trusting them, Nakamura’s not a goat, we’re 2-2, Atlanta’s lost only the 2nd game of 25 that they led in the 3rd quarter, under Smith, and owner Blank can trudge back to his box, where he belongs.
As Gregg Easterbrook, the Tuesday Morning QB, will no doubt write in his column this week, "when I saw the Panthers line up in punt formation, I wrote “game over” in my notebook.
No guts, no glory – simple as that.