Cowboys vs. Redskins – Cowboys clear leader for dumbest call of the weekend.

Four seconds left in the half.  You are at your own 36 yard line.  You have no timeouts left.  You either throw the long bomb to the end zone or run out the clock.  I’d run out the clock.  Instead the Cowboys throw a pass in the flat, Tashard Choice fumbles the ball, and DeAngelo Hall returns it for a touchdown.  10-0 Redskins.  That’s such a horrible call that I think it is grounds for dismissal.  Somebody should be fired over it.  Wade Phillips or Jason Garrett.

By the way, I originally was going to write how the Redskins screwed up their last possession of the half and gave the Cowboys a chance to score!

Packers vs. Eagles – Andy Reid uses his timeouts properly despite Joe Buck’s ignorance.

Andy Reid’s Eagles were trailing 27-20 with over 5 minutes remaining.  The Packers had the ball and Reid opted to use his timeouts at this point after 3 Packer running plays to stop the clock.  Two of the timeouts saved 40 seconds each and one of them saved 25 seconds after a measurement.  So Reid saved almost 2 minutes of game clock.  When the Eagles got the ball back, they had over 4 minutes to execute a game tying drive instead of 2:30 or so with 2 timeouts.  They were not rushed at all and had a great drive going with 2 minutes left and 4th and 1 at the GB 42.  Unfortunately, they didn’t convert.  But the point is saving time off the clock is as good with 5 minutes left as there is with 2 minutes left.  After the Packers took over, Joe Buck said something to the effect of “I’m sure Andy Reid wishes he had his timeouts left.”  What an ignorant statement.  First of all, if he had his timeouts left when he started the last drive, they would’ve been used somewhere on that drive.  Secondly, if miraculously the Eagles had them left after executing a similar game tying drive, there would’ve been less than 30 seconds left in the game (if that) when they turned the ball back over to the Packers.  They would’ve been useless.  It’s a shame he’s the lead announcer on FOX and he doesn’t understand the intracacies of clock management strategy yet tries to comment on them.

Cardinals vs. Rams – Lead for worst clock management award of the NFL weekend.

Here’s the situation.  The Rams are trailing the Cardinals 17-13 but they recover a fumble and get the ball back with 1:21 remaining at their own 24 yard line.  They have two timeouts left.  First play is a 9 yard pass to Stephen Jackson who gets out of bounds.  Perfect.  1:15 left.  2nd down is incomplete.  1:12 left.  3rd down is a 6 yard run and then St. Louis calls timeout.  1:08 remaining, 1st and 10 at their own 39.  Then an 8 yard completion in the field of play to the St. Louis 47 but the clock is rolling.  They don’t snap the next play for at least 10-12 seconds until :48 remain.  Mistake #1, they should’ve used a timeout right then.  An incomplete pass stops the clock with :46 left but then a 5 yard pass for a first down to the Arizona 48 keeps the clock rolling.  Mistake #2, they should’ve used another timeout.  The next snap is at :25 and is an incomplete pass.  Another incomplete pass followed by another inbounds pass for 9 yards to the Arizona 39 finally forces the Rams to call a timeout with :10 left.  Then because it is fourth and 1, they run the ball for the first down and then use their last timeout with :05 for the last play of the game.  Not only did they use their timeouts improperly but their play calling was very poor as they weren’t getting the ball down the field.

Packers vs. Eagles – Almost an end of 1st half mistake.

I don’t get it.  Green Bay holds Philly to a 3 and out and there is 1:04 left in the first half with the clock moving and Green Bay wastes 20 seconds before calling timeout to stop the clock with :44 seconds left.  When they get the ball back, Troy Aikman announcing the game on FOX says, “I’ll fully expect them to throw the ball and try to go down the field.”  How about saying why didn’t they call timeout earlier if they were planning to try to score?  One of those WTF moments.

Of course they still move the ball from their 25 to the Eagles 38 and kick a long field goal.  So all is forgotten.  Except by those of us who know a mistake was still made and will cost them at some point.

Lions vs. Bears – Did the Bears almost score too early?

Here’s the situation.  Bears are down 14-13.  They have 2nd and 18 from the Lions 28 with 1:40 left.  They are in field goal range but I wouldn’t want to rely on making a 45 yard field.  Jay Cutler throws the ball to Matt Forte for a touchdown and the Lions get the ball back with 1:27 left with one timeout.  Now, they nearly pulled it off with Calvin Johnson’s controversial non-catch.

So did the Bears score too early?  Obviously it would’ve been nice to take more time off the clock.  But on the touchdown play, there was no opportunity for Forte to fall down at the one yard line so they could run off more clock.  He caught the ball in the end zone.  In this case, I think it was ok to score and not rely on a long field goal.  The way the Lions offense had been playing and using a backup QB, it should’ve been a reasonably confident situation.  Although they have to put more coverage on Calvin Johnson.

Dolphins vs. Bills – Welcome back to the NFL Chan Gailey.

OK, I’m not saying the Bills would’ve won the game.  Not at all.  But with 1:33 left and facing 4th and 10 inside his own 10 yard line,  first year Bills coach Chan Gailey 1) elected to take a safety which means the Bills would need a touchdown instead of a field goal 2) kicked the ball to the Dolphins (I thought he would try an onside kick which I thought would’ve been dumb vs. going for it) and 3) expected that when he got the ball back with just under :30 left (based on having only 2 timeouts left and the Dolphins running on all three plays) at his own 20 that he could then go 80 yards with no timeouts to get a touchdown.  Now that is utterly stupid.  I expect many more great decisions like that from Chain Gailey this year.

Oh by the way, the safety moved the game from a push (Dolphins -3) to a Dolphins cover.

College Football – Weekend #2

Similar to week one, there were a lot of blowouts this weekend.  Not a lot of games to analyze.  I didn’t get a chance to watch a lot of games live as I was in Tuscaloosa for the Alabama/Penn State game so most of the analysis from Saturday is from the play by play.

When I see a close game, I look at the play by play, especially the 4th quarter to look for any obvious errors.  In this week’s games that were close, there weren’t really any glaring situations to highlight.  For example, if you look at the Michigan vs. Notre Dame game, Notre Dame scored a touchdown to take the lead 24-21 but left Michigan 3:32 to score.  However, Notre Dame’s touchdown was a 95 yard pass!  You can’t fault them for scoring too early.  Therefore, really no clock management issue.  It was a similar pattern across other games.  The only game I thought might have some issues in both the end of the first half and at the end of the game was USC vs Virginia.  I could question a few things but without watching the game, it’s hard to say if any major violations occurred.  All I’ll say is Virginia ended the game with one timeout left which given they were down by two scores late, I’m sure they could’ve used it somewhere.