GREEN BAY, Wis.: Browns coach Rob Chudzinski may be second-guessed for distaining a 49-yard field goal attempt in Sunday’s 31-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
But to Browns kicker Billy Cundiff, the decision to go for it on fourth down and 15 from the Packer 31 made perfect sense.
The Browns trailed 17-6 with 11:15 remaining. Cundiff’s kick would have been into the north end zone of Lambeau Field and against a wind that was measured at 8 mph at kickoff, when it had just started to rain.
Cundiff saw how difficult it would have been when Packers’ kicker Mason Crosby’s 52-yard attempt into the north end fell short with 10:56 remaining in the third quarter.
“I talked to Mason after the game and he said he felt like he hit a pretty good ball,” Cundiff said. “To watch that ball fall 3 yards short, that kind of lets you know what that end was doing.”
Asked his range in that situation, Cundiff hedged.
“To be honest with you, it depends on how the wind’s blowing. There’s too many variables involved,” Cundiff said. “The coach, he gets paid the big bucks for a reason. He’s looking at it.”
Instead of kicking, quarterback Brandon Weeden attempted a pass to receiver Josh Gordon that was broken up by cornerback Davon House at the Packer 5.
Chudzinski explained his rationale afterward.
“Going that way, the wind was a lot stronger, and we felt like that was out of our range at that particular time,” he said.
Cundiff said traction also would have been an issue. He had hit from 46 and 44 yards in the second and third quarters, respectively.
“The ground held up pretty well, but the problem was you couldn’t get a ton of traction,” he said. “I felt like I had enough on the other field goals, but on one of the kickoffs I slipped. Then the next one I kind of spun. I got out there early and found a good spot and kind of patted it down and that kind of helped out. But you don’t have that much time before you kick a field goal.”
Cundiff said the wind conditions in Lambeau Field are almost as unpredictable as in FirstEnergy Stadium.
“It’s similar to the way it is in Cleveland Stadium,” Cundiff said. “You can stand there at times and the wind’s not blowing and the minute the guy takes a step back, the wind will blow in your face.”
From the kicker’s perspective, Chudzinski was also playing the odds.
“Statistically speaking, that’s probably not a very high-percentage play, regardless. Around the league, 45-plus yard field goals, guys don’t make that many,” Cundiff said.
Statistics for that distance aren’t available on the NFL’s web site. But going into last week’s games, 13 teams had hit 100 percent of their attempts from 40-49 yards. Two of them, the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars, had only one try from that range. The Browns came into Sunday 4 of 5.
In the 2012 regular-season, seven teams hit all of their attempts from 40-49 yards, including the Browns. Half of the teams in the league made 80 percent or more.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.