Sean McVay Didn’t Silence Any Critics on Point Spread, Field Goal Controversy

Sean McVay Didn’t Silence Any Critics on Point Spread, Field Goal Controversy article feature image

Picture by Getty Images.

With the Rams down by 10 points vs. the 49ers on Sunday, the Rams sunk a 38-yard field goal as time expired to lose 30-23.

This typically irrelevant and inconsequential action meant millions of dollars changed hands, though. The Rams had been +7.5 on the point spread for most of the week before closing at +7. The field goal meant they covered or — if you got in at a worse number — you at least got your money back. For 49ers bettors, you got burned either way.

The reaction from many was: What was McVay doing? Was he trying to cover the spread?

McVay addressed those concerns in a press conference on Monday, explaining that he wanted to kick the field goal earlier. But, he didn't expect a completion by Puka Nacua to take that long, a 17-yard reception that brought the clock down from 19 seconds to four seconds.

"The initial goal was to try to get a two-for-one to where you end up getting into field goal range a little bit earlier with some of the play selections that we had and then ultimately be able to try to have an onside kick to be able to go try to compete to tie or win the game," McVay told reporters.

Once only four seconds remained, McVay said he didn't want to risk an injury to quarterback Matt Stafford on a Hail Mary down by 10 and felt like it was a good opportunity to give his field goal unit some reps.

"Apparently … there's a lot of people in Vegas pissed off about that decision," McVay added. "I clearly was not aware of that stuff."

For what it's worth, McVay could have taken a 55-yard field goal with 19 seconds left and given his team ample time for a Hail Mary heave if the onside kick had been recovered. Kicker Brett Maher is 20-for-30 (67%) on kicks of 50 yards or more during his career. That includes a 9-for-11 clip (82%) last season.

And McVay had to have known that a two-for-one wasn't even remotely possible with four seconds remaining in the game.

Curiously, before I attempted to ask McVay these questions at the Rams' press conference on Monday, I got booted from the call.

"We have had many people get our Zoom link and should not be on the news conference," said Artis Twyman, the VP of Communications for the Rams. "The person that looks through the names did not recognize your name."

Back to the issue at hand. McVay has a photographic memory — perhaps the most impressive out of any coach in the history of the NFL.

Does he remember that he had a 3-10 against-the-spread (ATS) record against frenemy Kyle Shanahan prior to Sunday's game? Including an 0-7 mark since 2020?

Did he remember that point differential is the ninth-highest tiebreaker come playoff time?

Crucially, was he privy to the fact that the point spread hovered around +7 and +7.5?

Five years ago, I think a coach could get away with saying this. Not today. I'm under the impression that every coach knows the odds to his game. They're used as motivational tools and are good barometers as to what the market thinks of your organization, which can be used as fuel or otherwise.

That's not to say that anything nefarious is going on here.

Head coaches can impact the game in far, far more subtle ways should they want to. A head coach could just pile on the carries for a starting running back and have someone bet the over on that mark if they really wanted to do something illegal.

McVay's actions don't ring alarm bells on a conspiracy front at all.

But in his press conference on Monday, he didn't do much to assuage people otherwise.

How would you rate this article?

This site contains commercial content. We may be compensated for the links provided on this page. The content on this page is for informational purposes only. Action Network makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information given or the outcome of any game or event.