Everyone knew it right when it happened. Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs should've gone for it.
Here was the situation: Chiefs are losing 14-10 with 5:50 left in the second quarter. It's 4th-and-1 on their own 48-yard line. More specifically, it's 4th-and-this:
Alex Smith had just run around the right end for one yard. The spot of the ball was iffy but it did look like Smith was just short. That was about a yard or maybe a little less to go. The Chiefs rushing attack was actually strong at this point averaging over six yards per carry.
Here was the commentary from Phil Simms as the TV broadcast awaited Reid's decision.
"Look at Andy Reid, he is going down that [play sheet] figuring out which one is going to be the easiest," Simms said. "I think if they go for it, that's the call ... and he is gonna punt. I'm a conservative guy too here in these decisions up here, but Peyton Manning and this offense under pressure when they need to, they're going to be tough to stop. In a game like this as a head coach you have to tell yourself I'm going to go for it. I'm going to be more aggressive than I usually am because of the circumstances you face in Mile High."
The Chiefs punted the ball. Despite Dustin Colquitt being the man and pinning them at the 12-yard line, Manning and the Broncos offense did what most Chiefs fans expected them to do at that time -- drive down the field and score a touchdown. The score then became 21-10 entering halftime.
It's easy to second guess a coach's decision because you're not the coach and the buck doesn't stop with you. But this was a decision that many, many people recognized in real time as a questionable one.
Reid will punt and he should go for it.— Danny Parkins (@DannyParkins) September 14, 2014
The Chiefs had 101 rushing yards at the time, are averaging 6.5 yards per carry, and on 4th and 1 from midfield decided to punt. Horrible.— Danny Parkins (@DannyParkins) September 14, 2014
As you saw listening to Simms, it appeared Reid was at least considering it.
It's impossible to tell how this would have affected the game. It certainly felt like it was going to change the tide of the game even though it really didn't. The Chiefs could have gone for it and gotten stuffed. They could've gotten it and then punted four plays later. Or they could've driven down the field and kicked a field goal (maybe not) or scored a touchdown before half. That decision had the potential to be a 14-point swing in a game that was decided by seven points.