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.

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.

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.