Panthers vs. Falcons – Go for it.

The Panthers led the Falcons 28-27 and had 4th and 1 at the Atlanta 45 yard line.  The clock was running with less than 1:40 to play in the game.  Do you go for it and ice the game or punt and hope your defense holds them?  It’s easy to answer in hindsight knowing what happened.  But the percentages say you have to go for it.  Especially since the Falcons only need a field goal to win.  The Panthers should’ve gone for it.  Plain and simple.  Especially for a 1-2 team who has nothing to lose.

Seahawks vs. Rams – What’s your strategy?

I’ve always had a hunch that Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll is not very good at managing the clock but never had enough evidence to prove it.  Well today’s game vs. the Rams is a good start to building his resume.  The Rams had just scored a touchdown to take a 10-7 lead and after the kickoff the Seahawks had 1st and 10 at their own 20 yard line with 1:11 left in the first half.  The Seahawks had three timeouts left and the Rams had two.  Now if the Seahawks wanted to throw the ball to try to get a scoring opportunity I have no problem with that.  If they opted to run out the clock and regroup at halftime, I have no problem with that.  So what did they do?  The worst possible strategy.  Nothing.  On first down they ran the ball for two yards.  Ok fine, run out the clock, or at least run the clock down as much as possible since the Rams had two timeouts left.  But instead of letting the play clock run down, they snapped the ball with :31 left on the play clock (:53 left in the first half).  If you are now in the hurry up to try and move the ball into scoring position, then why run on first down?  An incomplete pass on second down stopped the clock and after a sack on third down, the Rams called timeout and got the ball back with :34 left at the Seattle 46 yard line and still having one timeout.  They were able to get in position for a 48 yard field goal as the half ran out.  Those three points were huge in a six point loss for the Seahawks.  Again, what is your strategy coach?

Packers vs. Seahawks – No mistakes by GB

On the Packers last possession before the game winning Seahawks drive, they did everything right in that situation.  The Packers had taken over at their own 7 yard line with 1:54 left and the Seahawks holding two timeouts.  Two running plays for minus 5 yards left this with 3rd and 15 from their own two yard line.  They ran the ball on third down with Seattle not having a timeout to stop the clock.  So Seattle took over with only :46 left.  Given the field position and ultimately the long yardage left to go on third down, the Packers played it the right way.

Steelers vs. Raiders and Rams vs. Bears – Use your timeouts.

While the Raiders still ended up scoring on their last drive to win the game, they wasted precious time during the last drive.  After completing a 3rd and 10 with a 15 yard down pass down the middle of the field, the Raiders had all three timeouts remaining but didn’t use one and the clock moved from about 1:18 to :48 before the next play was snapped.  If not there, when are you going to use your timeouts?

In the Rams/Bears game the Rams were driving at the end of the first half.  They had just completed a 3rd down pass for 10 yards and a first down at the Bears 37 yard line.  The clock was ticking down to under  :40 left in the first half and the Rams had two timeouts left.  Instead of using one, they spiked the ball and wasted a down.  Now they only had two downs to work with.  Both plays were incomplete passes and the Rams kicked a field goal.  Had
they used a timeout, they would’ve had three downs and maybe would’ve been able to keep the drive alive.  They did get points but it wasn’t a smart use of timeouts.  And they ended up having two worthless timeouts left as they went to the locker room.

Lions vs. Titans – Part 2: Miscommunication? Go for it. Strange play call version 5.

The new overtime rule is outstanding.  If the team that has the ball first scores a touchdown, game over.  If they score a field goal, the other team gets the ball with a chance to either keep the game alive by getting a field goal or winning the game outright with a touchdown.  However, if they do kick a field goal, the game becomes sudden death so the next score wins the game (if nobody scores within the 15 minute overtime period in the regular season the game ends in a tie).

The Titans got the ball first and scored a field goal.  The Lions then marched down the field where they faced a 4th and 1 from the Titans 7 yard line.  Kick a field goal and you give the ball back to the Titans who have moved the ball well and give them a chance to win the game.  Go for it and keep the drive alive
with a chance to win the game.  Apparently, Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz wanted to try and draw the
Titans offside.  But the plan was not communicated properly and the Lions ran a broken play with a QB sneak that was stuffed.  Game over.  There should have been no miscommunication.  GO FOR IT!

Lions vs. Titans – Part 1: Execution mistakes but not clock mistakes.

In reviewing the Lions/Titans game in which 46 points were scored in the 4th quarter, the issue wasn’t bad clock management decisions (in fact the Lions did a masterful job of using their timeouts to get the touchdown that made it 41-34 with 20 seconds left).  The real issue was poor execution/mistakes.  The Titans got three touchdowns on long plays that didn’t use any clock.  The 105 yard kickoff return.  The 71 yard pass from Jake Locker to Nate Washington.  And the 72 yard fumble return.   The Lions were able to move the ball down the field at will on their second to last drive.  The onside kick recovery by the Lions.  And of course the hail mary.

49ers vs. Vikings – Smart use of timeouts…but strange play call version 4.

Just wanted to mention the Vikings did a great job of using all three of their timeouts at the end of the first half (one on defense and two on offense) to put themselves in a position to garner a field goal on the
last play of the first half.

I do have to mention though, after Toby Gerhart of the Vikings fumbled twice in the last 4 minutes of the game as the Vikings were trying to run out the clock, why would you give him the ball again?  They did.  He fumbled.  Luckily it didn’t cost them the game.

Jets vs. Dolphins – Strange play call version 3.

The Dolphins and Jets were in overtime and the Dolphins had 3rd and 7 at the Jets 32.  They ran the ball for two yards setting up a 48 yard field goal to win the game.  Dan Carpenter missed it.  I know you are risking a sack but I wouldn’t “settle” for a long field goal to win the game.  You have to try to get closer and not play so conservative.  Of course the Jets used the great field position to start their next drive and win the game.

Buccaneers vs. Cowboys – Strange play call version 2.

Another strange play call.  The Buccaneers are trailing 16-7 after a Cowboys FG with and have 1st and 10 at their own 20 with 2:43 left in the game.  You need two scores.  You need to score quickly.  What do they do on first down?  They run the ball for one yard and use 24 seconds on the clock from the snap on first down to the snap on second down.  Way to go.