Sean McVay Addresses a Meaningless Field Goal That Allowed the Rams to Cover the Spread

By | September 19, 2023

Yes, the NFL has a lot of gambling-related issues it should be concerned about. And the NFL remains clearly not concerned enough.

One of the possible concerns occurred on Sunday in Los Angeles. With the Rams trailing by 10, with just four seconds left in the game and the ball at the San Francisco 20, coach Sean McVay called for a 38-yard field goal.

Final score? 49ers 30, Rams 23. Point distribution before the game starts? 7.5.

There was no way the Rams could change the result. They had time for one more play. They selected the play that allowed them to cover the spread.

It seemed suspicious, especially with the NFL so heavily involved in sports betting sponsorship deals. It was a meaningless piece. Given the ever-present risk of injury on any contested play, the more responsible course of action would have been to take a knee and call it a day.

McVay was not asked about the decision after the game. On Monday, reporters raised the issue.

Here is the full word salad answer.

“What we were trying to do is be able to finish where we kicked the field goal beforehand, with the opportunity to be able to. . . If we had hit that deep path, it really would have worked out the way we wanted it to,” McVay said. “We were going to try to kick a field goal as soon as we were in field goal position so we could then kick an onside and try to give ourselves a real opportunity to win the game. When the time came, [I] I didn’t predict that we would hit Puka [Nacua] running so long and just said, ‘Alright, go ahead and shoot the field goal.’ [I] I felt it was an opportunity not to let Matthew [Stafford] susceptible to an unnecessary leap into the end zone and have an opportunity for our field goal operation. The initial goal was to try to make it a two-on-one to where you ended up getting into field goal range a little bit early with some of the play selections that we had and then ultimately be able to try to get an onside kick so you can then try to compete. to draw or win the game. Apparently, [V.P. of communications] Artis [Twyman] told me that there are a lot of people in Las Vegas upset about this decision. I clearly wasn’t aware of these things.”

It’s surprising that McVay mentioned the last part. Yes, people are upset about this. The Rams made an unnecessary play to cover the difference. Regardless of whether he knew the point difference, he made an unnecessary move. Instead of putting his quarterback at unnecessary physical risk, he put his field goal unit at unnecessary physical risk so the final score would be 30-20 instead of 30-23.

Why not just explain that net points are one of the playoff tiebreakers? Of course, net spots are not a problem until after seven other tiebreaker criteria are applied. But it’s still a tiebreaker. That’s a much better justification than anything McVay was trying to say.

As a result, there are suspicions that he was aware of the point spread and that he perceived some sort of moral victory in covering the spread. And although this is also a legitimate explanation, it is too close to the betting line to be accepted.

As commissioner Roger Goodell said more than a decade ago, before the NFL realized how much money it could make from gambling: “If gambling is allowed freely at sporting events, the normal incidents of gambling such as bad snaps, dropped passes, turnovers , penalties and play calling will inevitably fuel speculation, distrust and accusations of point deduction or game manipulation.”

If normal game incidents will “inevitably fuel speculation, distrust and accusations of docking points or fixing the game”, what will abnormal game incidents – such as kicking a meaningless goal – do?

Here’s the answer: do exactly what happened on Sunday. People think McVay kicked the field goal to cover the spread, for the benefit of those who bet on the Rams and the points. And his explanation didn’t really help to put out the fire.

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