Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma State – Almost a big screwup!

It was kind of hard to figure out clock management strategy with these two teams because they were able to move the ball so quickly up and down the field.  I was wondering if one team scored too quickly but I realized “normal” rules didn’t apply.  In any event, Oklahoma State almost screwed up.  They had the ball at the Texas A&M 31 yard line with :10 left.  They ran the ball up the middle to set up the field goal but the runner kept moving the pile as he wouldn’t go down.  If Texas A&M was smart, they would have let the pile move a little farther and the game would have ended!  Fortunately for Oklahoma State, the runner finally went down and they called timeout to kick the game winning field goal.  I hope Coach Gundy had instructed him beforehand to go down at some point.  This could’ve been a loser of the week if time had expired.

Week #3 – Loser of the week

I think this one has to go to Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy.  He botched the classic let them score situation so we might have a chance to win the game vs. the Bears.  There’s nothing worse than standing around and letting a team win.

A close second is Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll for botching the end of the first half against the Chargers.  That almost cost Seattle the game.  Let’s keep a close eye on Pete.

Packers vs. Bears – An obvious let them score situation!

A very interesting ending to the MNF game between the Packers and the Bears tonight.  The Packers made what I consider some very big clock management mistakes which cost them a chance to come back and tie the game.
Here’s the situation.  The Bears recover a fumble at the Packers 46 with 2:18 to play.  The first mistake the Packers made was challenging the call because it wasn’t really that close of a decision.  The Packers fumbled and the Bears recovered.  There was very little to debate about the call.  So the Packers wasted one of their timeouts which left them with 2 plus the 2 minute warning.

Then, the killer play was a pass interference penalty against the Packers which gave the Bears 1st and goal at the 9 yard line with 1:44 left and the Packers having 1 timeout left.  So what should the Packers do?  Use 1 timeout and let the Bears basically run off the clock and attempt a short game winning field goal or let the Bears score on first down so that you get the ball back with 1:30 left on the clock and one timeout to try and tie the game.  To me the choice is easy.  LET THEM SCORE.  I know it’s a hard concept for coaches to grasp but it is really that hard?  You are basically giving them the game.  The other question is would the Bears have scored a touchdown if the Packers let them score or were they prepared to “pull a Westbrook” and fall down at the 1 yard line.  My guess is they would’ve scored.

My takeaway is it was a bad coaching decision by Mike McCarthy.

Note:  Added 9/30/10 – I was at the game and didn’t hear the broadcast but they did discuss this issue during the game.  Great job MNF team!  And it has been at the forefront of debate this week across sports talk radio led by Mike and Mike as well as other media outlets.  That is the goal, to make clock management issues an important part of the analysis of a game and to hold coaches accountable.

Jets vs. Dolphins – Let them score!

I’m watching the Dolphins game vs Jets.  After a pass interference penalty gives the Jets 1st and goal at the 2 yard line with around 2:08 to play and the Dolphins have 2 timeouts and the 2 minute warning left, should the Dolphins just let them score to get the ball back with some time left in the game?  I say yes.  Otherwise they are going to be out of  timeouts.  Wow, coming back from commercial break, Al Michaels actually discussed this!!!

Chargers vs. Seahawks – The good and the bad.

Here’s the situation.  After San Diego went for it on 4th and 15 at the Seattle 19 and didn’t get it, the Seahawks took over the ball with 2:28 left.  San Diego had 2 timeouts left and the 2 minute warning to stop the clock.  After a false start penalty, Seattle runs the ball.  Timeout San Diego.  2:24 left.  So far so good.  On 2nd down, Matt Hasselback drops back as if he is going to pass but it was a run call all the way.  So far so good for Seattle.  But San Diego elects not to call timeout and let the clock run down to the 2 minute warning.  That’s bad.  On 3rd down Seattle runs the ball again and Forsett does a great job of staying in bounds.  San Diego uses it’s final timeout with 1:50 left.  That’s 10 seconds San Diego wasted by not calling timeout after the 2nd down play and waiting for the 2 minute warning.  Perhaps it seems small but every second counts.  Of course, I would expect nothing less out of Norv Turner!

Colts vs. Broncos – We play to win the game!

The Bronocs had 4th and 3 at the Colts 12 with 8:46 left in the game and they were trailing 20-13.  A FG does them no good as they would still need a TD.  Good call by Josh McDaniels to go for it.  Unfortunately, they didn’t make it.  But it was the right decision.  You are playing Peyton Manning and you know he is going to score points.  You need touchdowns, not field goals.

Chargers vs. Seahawks – Really? That was bad.

This is the leading candidate for the weekend, especially if the Seahawks lose the game.  Seattle recovers a fumble on a kickoff return and has 1st and 10 and the SD 24 with :47 left and 1 timeout.  First play incomplete.  2nd down, completed pass for 13 yards to the 11 yard line.  Timeout Seattle, :34 left.  On first down Seattle completes a pass over the middle for a gain of 9 to the SD 2.  Here’s where Seattle blew it.  First, the clock was moving but there were :22 left.  Don’t waste a down and spike it.  Call a play to throw it into the end zone.  If it doesn’t work, there will be at least :16 left.  Enough time to call a 3rd down play and kick a field goal.  Yes, Seattle could get a first down at the 1 yard line but given the time left, you have to look at it as it’s basically 2nd and goal.

Mistake #1:  Seattle spikes the ball.  They’ve wasted a down and now it is 3rd down.  :19 left.

Ok, it’s 3rd down.  No timeouts left.  You have to go to the end zone, right?

Mistake #2:  Seattle called a running play with Matt Hasselback no less.  Maybe they thought they could get the first down but then what?  Set up and spike it to only kick a FG anyway?  He didn’t get the first down and the clock ran out before they could kick a FG.  A lost 3 points and maybe 7 if they’d gone for the end zone.  That was bad.

Falcons vs. Saints – Drive efficiency

I was reviewing the Saints last drive in regulation.  They started at their own 37 with 3:32 left and 2 timeouts.  A FG to tie, a TD to win.  While the Saints did get a FG to send the game into overtime and they did have the first shot at winning in OT, their last drive in regulation time was not very efficient and could’ve netted them a TD for the win if they had operated more efficiently.

Remember on Monday night when the 49ers were too efficient.  An unheard of 8 plays in :49. The Saints snapped 10 plays plus the FG in over 3 minutes and used 2 timeouts and the 2 minute warning to stop the clock on the drive.  And they didn’t even use the timeouts until the end of the drive.  The first 5 plays of the drive took 30 seconds+ each as they moved the ball from their 37 to the Atlanta 37.  26 yards in over 2:30.  That’s not good efficiency.

From there, a short pass for a first down and then a timeout, another short pass and then a spike, a run for a first down, a timeout then one shot at the end zone form the 12 yard line (incomplete) before the game tying field goal.

The Saints were 12 yards short of winning the game.  They easily could’ve had more shots at the end zone with better clock management.