Raiders vs. Falcons – Keep them in bounds.

The Raiders and Falcons were tied at 20 with :40 left after a Raiders touchdown.  The Falcons had two timeouts left.  They had five completed passes in the last :40.  On three of them, the Falcons were able to get out of bounds to stop the clock.  Don’t let them get out of bounds!  Let them complete passes in the middle of the field so the clock will run or they will burn their timeouts.  Poor execution by the Raiders enabled the Falcons to get in position to win the game with a 55 yard field goal.

Steelers vs. Titans – Just give them the game.

The Steelers and Titans were tied at 23 and the Steelers had 4th and 7 from the Titans 36 with :54 left.   They could punt the ball and pin the Titans deep, essentially assuring overtime.  Or they could attempt at 54 yard field goal.  But if they missed the field goal, the Titans would be in great position to move into field goal position themselves.  Punt the ball.  The risk is too great, especially for the Shaun Suisham of the Steelers.  They went for the field goal.  They missed.  The Titans won the game on a field goal in regulation.  Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin just gave the game away.

Broncos vs. Patriots – Why aren’t they going for it?

Sometimes you might be watching a game and you get a feel for how it might play out.  The Broncos/Patriots game was starting to feel like a track meet.  Tom Brady was making it look easy going up and down the field on the Broncos defense.  So with the Broncos trailing 14-7 facing a 4th and 5 at the Patriots 39 yard line with just over 5 minutes left in the first half, GO FOR IT!  Instead they punted and the Patriots drove down the field for a field goal just before the half ended.  Game over.

 

Dolphins vs. Bengals and Ravens vs. Chiefs – Go for it!

The Bengals were trailing the Dolphins 17-13 and had 4th and 5 at the Dolphins 23 with 3:05 left in the game.  GO FOR IT!  If you make the FG, you only have one shot at holding the Dolphins as one first down will run out the clock.  The Bengals attempted a FG and missed.  Game over.

The Chiefs were trailing the Ravens 9-3 with under 5 minutes left in the game and had 4th and 9 at the Ravens 13 yard line.  GO FOR IT!  The Chiefs hadn’t move the ball well all day.  They are a team going nowhere.  Play for the win.  Instead they kicked a field goal and the game was over as they never got the ball back.

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.