The Green Bay Packers put together a fantastic season. They went 13-3 to get the NFC’s No. 1 seed, and Aaron Rodgers had otherworldly numbers that will result in his third NFL MVP award. So it’s really unfortunate that the Packers’ season had to end in a way that took things out of Rodgers’ hands in the final minutes of the NFC Championship Game, thanks to a dumb coaching decision.

The Packers trailed 31-23, and had 4th-and-Goal at the Tampa Bay eight-yard line with 2:09 remaining. This seemed like an obvious decision to go for it, especially with Rodgers and a Green Bay offense that had historically great red-zone production this season.

However, Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur opted for a Mason Crosby field goal to get the Packers to within five points- which means the Packers still needed a touchdown, and there was no guarantee they would get the ball back. And that’s with some guy named Tom Brady quarterbacking the other team.

Fox color commentator Troy Aikman couldn’t believe the decision to kick the field goal: “I’m really surprised by that decision, Joe (Buck). I thought that they would go for it on fourth down. You’re just not sure with Tom Brady that they (the Packers) will get another shot at it.”

The Packers indeed did *not* get another shot at it. The Buccaneers got three first downs to lock up the 31-26 victory. And even if Tampa Bay didn’t get the final first down, the Packers may not have had any time to work with anyway (again, needing a touchdown).

Sure, Tom Brady threw three interceptions in the second half, and the Packers had really turned up their defensive effort overall in the final 1.5 quarters. And if the Packers — who had all three timeouts remaining — were able to get a stop on defense, Rodgers would have a chance to lead Green Bay to a game-winning drive. The analytics didn’t think the decision was that bad on the surface either.

But these decisions and situations aren’t all equal. There’s a big difference between the average quarterback and offense being at the eight-yard line than there is Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. There’s a big difference between an average quarterback and offense being on the opposition than there is Tom Brady and the Buccaneers with the game on the line.

You won’t find many bigger analytics supporters than yours truly, but there’s a point where *feel* and leaving it in the hands of your stars — and out of the hands of the opposition’s stars — outweighs what the general number-crunching suggests. It’s just like what happened in the World Series when Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash chose to take a cruising Blake Snell out of Game 6 at 73 pitches and rely on the bullpen, which predictably didn’t pay off.

Additionally, even if the Packers failed to get the touchdown on 4th-and-Goal, they still would’ve had an opportunity to get the game into overtime. The Bucs would’ve been pinned back at likely their own eight-yard line, and in the same situation as they were following the field goal: get two or three firsts downs and the game would be over. And if the Packers got a stop, they would’ve likely gotten good field position with the opportunity to get a touchdown and two-point conversion.

The Packers needed to get a stop and score a touchdown following either a failed 4th-and-Goal try or the field goal. And the former offered the chance to just get the touchdown immediately. Instead, they never got that chance at all.

Here’s more reaction to LaFleur’s decision to kick the field goal:

The Bucs are certainly happy about the decision, and now they will take on the winner of Sunday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl.

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

He can be followed on Twitter at @Matt2Clapp (also @TheBlogfines for Cubs/MLB tweets and @DaBearNecess for Bears/NFL tweets), and can be reached by email at