Reader Borat asks: With 2:34 remaining anda 4-point lead, PIT faced a 4th and 5 at the BAL 29. Tomlin is taking a lot of heat from Steelers fans about his handling of the situation. Have you done an analysis?
At that point, Tomlin should have preferred a FG attempt (0.77 total WP) to a punt (0.75 total WP). The league average for that distance is 64%, and a successful kick would have made it a 7-point game, assuring at least overtime. But either decision could be defensible depending on the particulars--most importantly the expected resulting field position of the punt and likelihood of success of a FG attempt.
But Tomlin wavered, unsure of his team's new holder, a recently signed punter. He may have been correct because a drop of only a few percentage points in FG probability makes the decision a wash. The play clock ran out, and PIT took a delay of game penalty.
At this point, felt he had no choice but to punt. And the numbers reflect this. At 4th and 10 from the BAL 34, the punt is the better option, 0.75 WP to 0.74 WP.
But, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I think he should have gone for it. Yes, gone for it even on 4th and 10. Here's why.
A 4th and 10 conversion is typically a 35% proposition, not terribly worse than the 52% shot at a 49-yd field goal. And the payoff of a successful conversion is virtually certain victory, while the risk is only a 25-yd shorter field for BAL's offense. It's actually somewhat safer than a missed FG because then BAL would start at their 41 instead of, most likely, the 34.
In fact, PIT would have only needed a 15% chance at converting to make the gamble worthwhile. In fact, Roethlisberger is 40% successful on 3rd and 10 (in 111 attempts), and 33% successful on 4th and 10 (2 for 6). PIT may not have had a 35% chance vs. the BAL defense, but they almost certainly had better than a 15% shot, especially considering the possibility of a defensive penalty.
Here's how it breaks down:
0.35 * 0.98 + (1-0.35) * 0.71 = 0.80 WP