While the Baltimore Ravens saw the value of going for it on fourth and one Sunday, the Los Angeles Chargers did the exact opposite, and that played a large role in their 23-20 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. With the game tied at 20 entering overtime, the Chargers received the kickoff and drove to their own 34, but then opted to punt on fourth and one. And that punt didn’t look good for Los Angeles even from the onset, as per the @surrender_index Twitter account:
LAC decided to punt to KC from the LAC 34 on 4th & 1 with 7:57 remaining in OT while tied 20 to 20.
With a Surrender Index of 16.22, this punt ranks at the 99.5th percentile of cowardly punts of the 2020 season, and the 96th percentile of all punts since 2009.
— Surrender Index (@surrender_index) September 20, 2020
And that decision wound up working out quite poorly for the Chargers. Yes, punter Ty Long executed that punt well, booting the ball 61 yards to the Kansas City five-yard-line, and the Los Angeles punt team did reasonably well, forcing Chiefs’ returner Mecole Hardman out of bounds at the 21. But Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense did well after that, and they proved unafraid to go for it on a fourth-and-one of their own at the Chargers’ 46. That helped them cap off a 13-play, 39-yard drive with a 58-yard field goal from kicker Harrison Butker (who also made the kick on the play before, with that only nullified by a Los Angeles timeout). The post-game celebration with Chiefs’ players hoisting Butker is seen above; here’s the clip of his field goal.
— NFL (@NFL) September 20, 2020
Choosing to punt on fourth and one when not backed up carries questions in general, but that’s perhaps exceptionally questionable when you’re facing an offense as skilled as what Mahomes and the Chiefs have. And with Chargers’ quarterback Justin Herbert only starting thanks to a chest injury to Tyrod Taylor, it might have made a lot of sense for Los Angeles to go for it on fourth-and-one and hope to end things on that drive rather than trying to prolong the game. Instead, they punted, and it didn’t work out well at all for them. And going for it on fourth-and-one wound up working very well indeed for the Chiefs, boosting their record to 2-0 and dropping the Chargers to 1-1. Check out BetOnline for the best NFL lines for these teams in week 3.
[NFL.com/photo from Robert Hanashiro, USA Today Sports]