On Mike and Mike this morning, Mike Greenberg went absolutely bonkers over Doug Pederson’s explanation of the last Chiefs drive in their final playoff game. Pederson’s rationale was that he didn’t want to give Tom Brady the ball back, so his offense took its time. Essentially, he was saying he’d rather attempt a fully expected onside kick (a play that has a near-zero percent chance of working) instead of trying to stop the Pats on a drive and get the ball back with a decent amount of time left. Tom Brady is amazing, but that’s still a better strategy. Pederson didn’t think so, and that’s a bit disconcerting, but Greeny just could not wrap his head around it. Full clip of Greenberg losing his mind is after the jump.
In the show’s full audio (Pederson segment starts around the 38-minute mark) here, Greeny calls it “unfathomable” and one of the worst decisions he’s ever heard. Taking Greeny’s “15% of onside kicks are recovered” stat and trying to make it about “expected kicks” in the playoffs, I did this:
On Pro-Football Reference, I looked at all onside kicks attempted from 1994 to now in which the kick took place in the fourth quarter or overtime in the playoffs with less than 10 minutes remaining. Those kicks would be expected. 31 kicks met that criteria. Five were recovered*. That’s a recovery rate of 16%, more or less on par with Greeny’s math. It’s a small sample size, but it’s still not great, and that is what Doug Pederson was banking on.
UPDATE: The original post mentioned that, over that same span, no onside kicks had been recovered in the last 10 minutes in the playoffs. Obviously Seattle did it last year. For some reason, Pro-Football Reference didn’t credit them with a recovered onside kick.
UPDATE 2: Pro-Football Reference reached out to let me know that while their onside recovery search is a bit wonky, you can look into each individual kick to see how it was recovered. The math above reflects that work.
*If you’re interested, those recovered kicks were on 1/18/15, 1/16/00, 12/27/97, 12/28/97, and 12/30/95. The kickers who have done it are Steven Hauschka, Gary Anderson, Eddie Murry, Pete Stoyanovich, and Olindo Mare. Teams who have successfully recovered an expected onside kick in the playoffs since 1994 are 2-3.