Advanced NFL Stats says that Mike Smith made the right call on two controversial 4th down calls. Needless to say they didn’t like the choice of plays, but concluded he was right to go for it:
One thing to note is the way by which the Falcons attempted to convert. Both times, they lined up in a goal line-type formation and tried to sneak it up the gut with Matt Ryan. Both times, the Giants overloaded the middle, giving no ground or push to the Falcons’ O-line. The goal line formation allows the Giants to focus on a very small space to cover. By spreading the field, Ryan would have more room to work with – especially on a potential QB sneak. The Falcons also could have tried a more risky attempt down the field, because this forces the Giants to cover more space. Either way, you gain an advantage over the defense by spreading them out.
Unfortunately, all that will be remembered of the 2011 season for the Falcons will be their failed 4th-down conversions, not the predominantly correct analysis by which Mike Smith came to his decisions.