Fourth And One
Gregg Easterbrook made a comment
in his Tuesday Morning Quarterback column last week in favor of teams going for it on fourth down and a yard when inside enemy territory. I took a quick look at it, and it certainly appears that he's right. I took a look at the 32 times teams had gone for the first down in that situation between 10/31/04 and 12/5/04. I ignored cases where there was a penalty that negated the play or where the team went for it while lined up to kick either a punt or a field goal, so that we are concentrating only on the times where it was apparent that the team was going for it.
The results? Teams were successful in getting the first down (or touchdown)) on 23 of 32 attempts, or about 72% of the time. There was little apparent difference between running and passing, with runs succeeding 16 of 22 times (73%) and passes getting the job done 7 of ten times (70%). Just for the heck of it, I took a look at this weekend's games and the pattern was the same; there were four attempts (all runs) and three of them were successful.