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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Bill O’Brien explains thought process behind failed fake punt

Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien made the very questionable decision to run a fake punt on 4th and 4 from his own 31-yard line while up 24-7 in Sunday’s AFC Divisional game. The Chiefs made the stop, scored a touchdown, and didn’t stop scoring until the end of the game, which ultimately ended with the Chiefs grabbing a 51-31 win.

After the loss, O’Brien said he wanted to avoid giving the ball to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense, and thought the play was good enough to work.

O’Brien added that he’d kicked a field goal on 4th and 1 from the Kansas City 13 earlier in the quarter because he didn’t like any of the plays he could have called.

To say “it didn’t work” is something of an understatement. While O’Brien is right that it took an excellent play from Daniel Sorensen to break up the fake punt play, he had to account for what might happen if the call did fail. It changed the trajectory of the game, and will be looked at as a turning point that led to Houston’s loss. O’Brien’s wish to keep the ball out of Mahomes’ hands is understandable, but there are times to pick and choose when to take risks. O’Brien had gone too conservative earlier in the game, and was too aggressive here. It was not a good game for him at all.


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