While Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is recently some feedback after not attempting a 53-yard field goal with over three minutes left in the game to take a one-point lead, Washington Redskins' head coach Mike Shanahan isn't. With 5:23 left in the game on fourth-and-three, the Redskins went for it, picked up the first down on a play that was considered vital towards their comeback over the Arizona Cardinals.
It's an interesting debate that deserved another day of conversion; one of our more interesting topics that doesn't involve Carson Palmer.
Now as we pointed out Monday night, the point has become irrelevant, considering that the team did go for it and didn't make it. But in my opinion, the Bengals were right going for it and if the situation were to come up again, I'd support another attempt. Jason Garrison believes straight up that the Bengals should have attempted the field goal.
According to Advanced NFL Stats' Win Probability calculator, the Bengals actually had a higher probability scoring a touchdown than converting a field goal with a 0.71 win probability no matter how they scored. Turning the tides, if the Broncos receive the football with three minutes left in the game at their own 20-yard line, their win probability automatically jumps to 0.86.
There are so many studies currently out there that suggests teams that go for it on fourth down, simply put, have a higher probability of winning. Economist David Romer of the University of California, Berkeley, analyzed over 700 regular season games from 1998 and 2000 and concluded that the behavior of NFL teams "on fourth downs departs systematically from the behavior that would maximize their chances of winning." A book titled The Hidden Game of Football, authored by Bob Carroll, Pete Palmer and John Thorn, summarized that a even a field goal to tie the game to send it into overtime by no means increases your chances to win anymore than going for it on fourth down during regulation.
A study of the 2008 season favored going for it, concluding that teams on fourth-and-short were successful on their conversion 70% of the time, with a net points gained of 1.3 points (even with a converted field goal) from the opposing 40-yard line.