I have to give Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin a lot of credit for playing to win the game instead of playing not to lose late in their win over the Jets on Sunday. The Steelers got the ball with 3:06 left in the game after a Jets TD made in 24-19 in favor of the Steelers. The Jets had 3 timeouts and the 2 minute warning. The Steelers needed 1 first down to nearly run out the clock and 2 to ice it. After a first down run for one yard and a Jets timeout, the Steelers didn’t play conservative and run the ball again forcing themselves to make a big decision on third down. They instead threw the ball on 2nd down and got 14 yards and the first down. After 2 Jets timeouts and the two minute warning, the Steelers faced a 3rd and 6. The could run the ball and if they didn’t get the first down, they would give the Jets the ball back with about 1:10 left in the game deep in their own territory with the Jets out of timeouts and needing a TD. Instead, the Steelers threw it again and got 14 yards and the first down. Game over. Nice job by the Steelers and Head Coach Mike Tomlin to take the game into their own hands.
I am not a Rex Ryan fan. He makes too many mistakes that cost his team. He probably doesn’t make the offensive play calls but I’m still holding him responsible. Jets are trailing the Steelers 24-10 in the middle of the fourth quarter. The Jets are on a long drive and have 2nd and goal from inside the 1 yard line. RUN THE BALL. AND THEN RUN IT AGAIN. AND THEN RUN IT AGAIN. Instead, two incomplete passes and an unimaginative run up the middle and the Jets turn the ball over to the Steelers. That sequence cost the Jets a chance at winning the game. For all the tough talk by Rex and his team, they aren’t that tough when they can’t run the ball in from inside the 1 yard line.
The Bears were driving for the game tying TD with less than 2 minutes left. They had 3rd and 3 at the Packers 27. Just as they snapped the ball, someone on the Bears called a timeout. They had a nice run play set up. So they come back instead with an end around run that loses 2 yards with WR Earl Bennett. At least run it with Devon Hester. I didn’t mind the run, it was just the play call and the personnel. Then on 4th and 5, give your inexperienced QB some short yardage options instead of throwing downfield. Bad play calling by Mike Martz (not the first time).
Well, Lovie Smith has supplanted Rex Ryan as the initial inductee into the Hall of Fame for pussy coaching. Twice in the first half of the NFC Championship game Smith punted from inside the Packers 35 yard line. The first time was midway through the first quarter after the Packers took a 7-0 lead, the Bears drove down and had 4th and 7 at the 34. Punt. It only took the Packers two plays to pass the 34 yard line. While the Packers didn’t score on this or the next drive, it set them up to win the field position game and they eventually scored a TD on a short field. Then again midway through the 2nd quarter, the Bears now trailing 14-0 had 4th and 11 at the Packers 31. Punt. Again it only took 2 plays for the Packers to pass the 31 yard line. Is Lovie trying to win the game? Sure doesn’t look like it.
Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy had his coaching scared moment punting from the Bears 36 yard line on 4th and 1 with 4:29 left in the first half and a chance to really put the game away.
The Patriots made two big mistakes in the 4th quarter of their loss to the Jets on Sunday. Actually, the first mistake was a series of small mistakes. The Jets had just scored a TD to go ahead 21-11 with 13 minutes left. The Patriots proceeded to drive from their own 18 yard line with 12:55 left in the game to the Jets 34 where they turned the ball over on downs with 5:15 left. They used 7:40 and got no points. But the series of mistakes they made was that they weren’t in a hurry at all on this drive. There were two incomplete passes on the drive that stopped the clock (excluding the incomplete pass that turned the ball back over to the Jets). Otherwise, the Patriots ran 11 other plays that kept the clock moving. And on those 11 plays, here’s how much time expired on the clock from the beginning of one play to the beginning of the other play (about :45 runs off the clock between plays to account for the play and the 40 second clock): :35, :52 (penalty), :38, :42, :35, :41, :24, :59 (penalty), :35, :40, :39. Only one play was executed within :30 from the previous play. Now, I’m not expecting Oregon like execution but that was not one of Tom Brady’s best drives. And this is also surprising given that Bill Belichek is one of he better clock management coaches in the league.
The second mistake happened on the next Patriots drive. The Patriots were still down 21-11 and got the ball back at the Jets 43 yard line after a great punt return with 3:29 left in the game. The Patriots had 2 timeouts left and the two minute warning to stop the clock. Therefore, the Patriots needed to get one score (preferably a TD) before the two minute warning (ideally kicking off the ball to the Jets with about 2:10 left in the game). If the Patriots could do that, they could use their timeouts and the two minute warning to stop the clock after the Jets three plays and get the ball back with around 1:40 left in the game to try and tie the game. More importantly, they wouldn’t have to try an onside kick. So here’s where they made a mistake. They had 3rd and 10 at the Jets 18 with 2:21 left in the game. Certainly a first down would be great, even if it kept the clock rolling. But short of that or a TD, don’t throw a short pass that keeps the clock rolling to the two minute warning. What did they do? Tom Brady threw a one yard pass to Wes Welker that ran the clock down to the 2 minute warning. Then they kicked a FG. Then they tried the onside kick that allowed the Jets to score another TD. Game over. I’m not saying they would’ve tied or won the game had they executed properly but they didn’t get themselves a chance.
Rex Ryan gets lucky again. His mistakes get masked in this victory. One – not going for it late in the 2nd quarter in Patriots territory ended up not hurting him as the Patriots tried an ill-fated fake punt. Two – up by 11 in the latter part of the 3rd quarter, the Jets were moving the ball on the ground and had 2nd and 6 at the Pats 38 when they killed the drive and the stopped the clock with two incomplete passes. I thought not runnng the ball, possibly gettingr the first down and not running a least another 90 seconds off the clock would come back to haunt them. I still say Ryan is a top 5 worst clock coach in the NFL.
I knew Pete Carroll had it in him. He just needed the right opportunity to show his expertise on coaching scared. The Bears score a TD the first time they get the ball. The Seahawks start to move the ball and have 4th and one at the Bears 40 still early in the first quarter. GO FOR IT. You are on the road. You need some momentum. You are coming off an emotional win. Scared football. And I won’t elaborate on kicking a FG down 28-0 late in the third quarter.
No surprise here. For the second time this season, Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell is our loser of the week for the two mistakes made at the end of their game as documented below. Caldwell is definitely in our top five worst clock management coaches in the NFL (awards to be given out at the end of the season).
Before I get to the really dumb thing the Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell did, I first wanted to address the issue if the Colts should’ve done anything different on their last drive to leave the Jets less time to kick the game winning FG. Well first of all, the biggest issue was the long kickoff return they allowed. But besides that, I looked at their drive and they did make a few mistakes. I can also argue the Jets made a mistake (no surprise given Rex Ryan’s track record as documented on this site) by not taking a timeout after the Colts ran the ball at 1:42 left in the game, and thus allowing approximately 27 seconds to run off the clock. The two things the Colts could’ve done was let more time run off after their first play after the two minute warning (they snapped the next play at 1:42 so only about 13 seconds ran off the play clock. They could’ve run another 20 to 25 seconds off the clock. On the next play, they ran about 27 seconds off the play clock so they could’ve run another 10 to 12 seconds. Collectively, they could’ve run 30 to 37 seconds off the clock, thus giving the Jets the ball back with less than 30 seconds left (assuming the Jets didn’t get smart and use their timeouts after either of these plays). So yes, I think the Colts could’ve run more time off the clock and won the game. I know this falls on Peyton Manning’s shoulders since he really is the coach of this team.
Now the really dumb thing Jim Caldwell did was the following. The Jets had 1st and 10 at the Colts 34 with :36 left in the game and one timeout left. The Jets ran the ball (a head scratcher) for 2 yards so the clock was running. Either the Jets would have to burn their last timeout, spike the ball which would then make it 3rd down, or try to quickly run a play. Instead, Caldwell helped them out by calling a timeout with :29 left. Why? There is no logical reason to do so. THIS IS A FIREABLE OFFENSE. The Jets then were able to get organized and complete a pass for 17 yards to get a much closer FG attempts run the clock down, use their last timeout that they didn’t have to use when Caldwell bailed them out, and then win the game.
You put in all the work and effort all year and your season ends because of bad clock management strategy. What a shame.
This is not an indictment on either team. Just an observation. You had two high powered offenses who like to move quickly down the field, especially Oregon. A coach knows when it is best to keep the team in rhythm rather than slow things down and burn the clock. I just thought there were times where it might have been advantageous for both teams (especially Auburn) to run the play clock down to one before snapping the ball. Auburn scored a TD with less than 2 minutes left in the first half. Now I’m not saying they shouldn’t have scored because the receiver was wide open. But on a number of plays leading up to the TD, they had at least 20-30 seconds to burn on the play clock that would’ve meant they scored a TD with less than a minute remaining. Now Oregon, didn’t score after getting the ball back but it just created more drama than necessary. In the 3rd quarter, I thought they could’ve burned more clock before snapping the ball, especially to give their defense as much rest as possible. They finally caught on with the strategy in the 4th quarter and started to burn more clock. There’s really not much more Oregon could’ve done on their game tying TD. They moved downfield in a few big chunks of yardage and had two incomplete passes so there definitely was going to be some time left for Auburn to score.