There isn’t too much to write about today because we’ve had very few close games. Of the 12 Sunday afternoon games, only three of them were one score games (Cardinals/Panthers, Titans/Jaguars, and Vikings/Chargers). While we haven’t had any “major” mistakes, there are a few things I want to highlight.
–The Bears made a few bad play calls during the 4th quarter of their rout of the Falcons. First the Bears were up 30-6 with 10:35 left and had 3rd and 4 at the Falcons 38. A deflected pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. You are up by 3 and probably 4 scores. Run the ball, keep the clock moving and kill another 40 seconds. Then with the score 30-12 and the Bears having 3rd and 11 at their 27 yard line with 4:59 left, they throw an incomplete pass. Again, run the ball and kill another 40 seconds.
–The Bengals are up on the Browns 20-17 with 3:10 left and 2nd and 7 at their own 36. Cleveland has 2 timeouts left. Cincinnati runs the ball (good) but Cedric Benson is forced out of bounds for no gain and the clock stops (bad). Stay in bounds! Don’t call a play that might take you out of bounds.
–The Jaguars faced a classic clock situation. Two minutes left leading the Titans 16-14, Titans out of timeouts, and Jacksonville had 3rd and 5 at the Titans 47. A run might not get the first down but will keep the clock running. A pass if completed will most likely get the first down and ice the game. The Jaguars throw an incomplete pass and the Titans get the ball back with 1:45 left instead of 1:05. This is not a criticism of what the Jaguars did, just and observation of the decision that has to be made.
–The Lions are leading the Buccaneers 27-20. The Lions have 3rd and 6 at the Tampa Bay 36 with 1:24 left. The Bucs have just used their last timeout. On 3rd down, the Lions run the ball to keep the clock moving (good) but then an unnecessary roughness penalty after the play is over (bad) stops the clock and now the Bucs get the ball back with 1:07 left instead of less than 30 seconds left. The Lions still win but the penalty gave the Bucs a chance they shouldn’t have had.
–Good job by the Panthers calling timeout on defense with 1:08 left in the first half before a Cardinals field goal in order to give their offense enough time to get a touchdown before the end of the half.
–Bad – the Vikings get drawn offside on a 3rd and 2 with 2 minutes left giving the Chargers a first down and letting them run out the clock.
–I don’t think the Seahawks will find themselves in many clock management situations this year because they are going to get blown out most of the time. But they made a couple of costly mistakes in the 4th quarter of their game with the 49ers. With 8:14 left in the game, the 49ers kick a field goal to go up 19-10. But a roughing the kicker penalty gives the 49ers a fresh set of downs and allows them to run off more clock and they kick a field goal with 5:54 left. That’s penalty cost the Seahawks nearly 2 1/2 minutes at a point in the game where they need to score twice. Just a killer penalty. The other issue I have and this is typical of NFL coaches is that they give up rather than try to win (or keep alive the chance to win) the game. After the Seahawks scored a touchdown to close the gap to 19-17, the 49ers return the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown to take the lead back to 9 points. The Seahawks get the ball back and two incomplete passes and a sack leave them with 4th and 17 at their own 13 yard line with 3:05 left in the game. YOU HAVE TO GO FOR IT FOR ANY CHANCE AT WINNING THE GAME. Instead the Seahwaks and Head Coach Pete Carroll give up and punt the ball. And what happens? The 49ers return the punt for a touchdown! So if the Seahawks punted the ball instead of not going for it so the 49ers wouldn’t get a short field for a touchdown, the plan backfired. Serves them right.