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.

Bills vs. Browns – Strange play call.

Here’s one that I don’t get.  Just before the end of the first half, Cleveland uses its last two timeouts while the Bills have the ball in order to have some time left on the clock when the Bills punt.  The Browns get the ball on their own 34 yard line with :58 left in the half and again having no timeouts.  So what do they do on first down?  They run the ball.  Given the way Brandon Weeden is playing, maybe that is not a bad thing to do.  But why are you using your timeouts to get the ball back only to start the drive by using a clock eating running  play?  If you were using your last timeouts to get the ball back and to try and get a score, then be smart about the play call.  Unless the run gets you more than 10 to 15 yards, or gets out-of-bounds, it is a bad call in that situation.

Redskins vs. Rams – Pay attention to the details.

Ultimately, this didn’t impact the game because of a turnover.  However, I thought I’d share it with you because it demonstrates that you really have to pay attention to the details of clock management or it will cost you.  And I really wonder how many coaches are paying attention.

The Rams led the Redskins 31-28 and had a 1st down at the Redskins 46 yard line with 3:33 left in the game.  The Redskins had just used their last timeout to stop the clock.  The only way the Redskins could stop the clock was with the two minute warning.  The key for the Rams was to use enough clock during the actual 1st and 2nd down plays so that the time used for the plays plus the 40 second play clock would take them to the two minute warning.  That way the 3rd down play would take place AFTER the two minute warning and thus another 40 seconds would run off the clock before the Rams would have to punt.  That would leave the Redskins deep in their own territory with just over a minute remaining to try and get the game tying FG.

What happened?  The first down play was a 5 yard run and the 40 second play clock started at 3:28.  The second down play was snapped very close to the play clock expiring (the play by play said 2:50) but the Rams fumbled on the play.  Even if they had not fumbled, I don’t think the play would’ve taken them to 2:39 in the game which is what they needed in order for the 3rd down play to happen after the two minute warning.  In a situation like that, a wide run without going out of bounds is what’s needed to make the actual play last as long as possible.


Ravens vs. Eagles – Pay attention to the play clock.

Since the Eagles ended up winning this game, this is something that will go unnoticed by most people.  But it is certainly worth drawing attention to.  The Eagles were trailing the Ravens 14-7 and the Ravens had the ball 3rd and 7 at their own 39 with 1:22 left in the half.  A two yard pass brought up 4th down so the Eagles used a timeout with 1:16.  The Ravens punt was a good one and it left the Eagles with 1st and 10 at their 6 yard line with 1:05 remaining.  The Eagles decided they weren’t going to try to score against a tough Ravens defense with that field position so they opted to run the ball on first down.  They also chose to run the ball on second down but they made a big mistake.  They didn’t let the 40 second play clock run down to the very end.   The first down play was snapped at 1:01 so figure the play clock started at :56.  If they had let it run down properly, they would’ve snapped the 2nd down play at :16 or :17 left.  Instead they snapped it at :31.  And the Ravens called timeout.  The Eagles ran again on 3rd down and again the Ravens called timeout.  The Ravens then got the ball back with :09 at the Eagles 38 yard line and were able to convert a 56 yard FG.  If they had run down the play clock, the FG would’ve never happened.

Vikings vs. Colts – Not once but twice Minnesota “D” gets burned.

First of all, I have to give credit to Colts QB Andrew Luck who looks like a seasoned veteran running the two minute (or in his case the :31 second) offense.  But what on earth is the Vikings defense thinking?  At the end of the first half, the Colts led 10-6 and had moved the ball from their 36 to the Vikings 30 with :14 left.   With the Colts out of timeouts, either they are going to throw to the end zone or throw to the sidelines.  Just keep them inbounds and the clock will run out.  What happens?  The Vikings allow a 30 yard touchdown pass.  17-6 Colts.

At the end of the game, the Vikings have just scored a TD with :31 left to tie the game at 20.  Two 20 yard pass completions both followed by a Colts timeout, a 7 yard pass play with a 5 yard penalty on the Vikings, and a spike leads to the Colts kicking the game winning 53 yard FG with :08 left.  And no, I don’t fault the Vikings offense for leaving :31 on the clock when they tied the score.  That’s two weeks in a row the Vikings have been written up.  Head Coach Leslie Frazier — you are on notice with WTFCoach!