By Loren Smith Real Redskins Guest Contributor Redskins head coach Jim Zorn went for it twice on 4th and 1 during the Redskins' crucial 76-yard, seven-plus-minute drive late in the fourth quarter. The first time was at the Rams' 20 with 4:15 remaining, the second was at the Rams' 3 with 2:00 remaining. The public consensus appears to support the first call, but not the second. The numbers guys at Football Outsiders have done in-depth research showing that coaches should go for it on 4th down more often. Without attempting to replicate that research, I thought a bit about the pros and cons of the specific scenario in the second 4th down play, with a chip-shot field goal to put the team up five points balanced against winning the game on the spot. Having decided to go for it, whether Zorn then called the right play is a separate argument. However, public comments by the team (and a review of the game footage) suggest that it wasn't a much-derided stretch play; LG Derrick Dockery simply got steamrolled and Portis tried to kick out to the left, unsuccessfully. We'll never know what the precise play was; frankly, I hope Zorn starts to keep a lot more secrets about what plays are being called or what players are being targeted, etc. Part of Zorn's lovableness is his open personality, but he can be open without telling us (and the other NFC East scouts) anything about his gameplan. My conclusion is that the prize of ending the game on the spot makes the call to go for it the right one. I'm glad he went for it; more to the point, I hope that the widespread criticism of the various other questionable issues surrounding the team doesn't make Zorn shy away from continuing to go for it on 4th down. To Kick the FG: Pro: -A 5-point Redskins lead means the Rams have to score a touchdown to win, as a field goal does them no good. -Though the distance is similar - the Rams have to drive 60-70 yards in either scenario - advancing the ball in the red zone carries an elevated difficulty factor, as the Redskins sadly showed all day. -Take the field goal option away from the Rams, and they're really in the soup - aside from one long Steven Jackson run, the Rams offense piled up a whole lot o' nothin'. Con: -The Redskins field goal attempt could be blocked; worse, a blocked field goal could be run back for a touchdown. -If Suisham nails the field goal, the Redskins have to kick off to the Rams. A kickoff return for a touchdown is possible; or a long return giving the Rams a short field. While a squib kick is likely, the Rams almost certainly get the ball up at least as far as their own 30. -Either way, in the field goal scenario, the Rams get the ball back, forcing our defense to win the game for us again, risking more injuries with more live plays. To Go for It: Pro: -If Portis makes the half-yard but is tackled short of the goal line, the game is over, period. Victory formation; the defense doesn't have to return to the field, no further risks of injury, the game simply ends. -If Portis scores a touchdown, with the extra point the Rams are in a two-score hole with 1:50 to play, no timeouts and an ineffective offense. -If Portis doesn't make the half-yard, the Rams are backed up inside their own 5 yard line, having to go roughly the same distance (60-70 yards to field goal range) that they would in the other scenario, having to drive 60-70 yards for a touchdown. But being backed up in your own endzone creates different pressures on an offense - a sack or a holding call ends the game on a safety, and there's simply less room to run around. Con: -Losing to the Rams again by a field goal would be crushing to team morale - a lot more crushing than winning ugly the way they did. -The Rams have a good kicker - while they'd want to reach at least the Redskins 30 for insurance, Josh Brown could make a credible effort from much further out. His career-long is 58 yards (i.e. from the 41 yard line) and last year he hit a 54-yarder (i.e. from the 37 yard line). -On a busted stretch play, if Portis fumbles, the risks of a touchdown run back are high. Worse, the defender who recovers it might have the sense to run the ball back into field goal range and then out of bounds, allowing the Rams to run the clock down to almost nothing before kicking the game-winning field goal. -And of course, if the Redskins don't convert the extra point if Portis scores, it's still a one-score game. There are other factors to consider - the relative percentages of each of these scenarios, slight injuries we can't know about, and marginal tendencies of the sorts NFL scouts are paid to uncover. But I think this review shows that Zorn is making credible, gutsy decisions - the sort we loved him for during the fast start in 2008. Let's hope for more and better.