These football teams benefited greatly from decisions made – and not made – by opposing head coaches this past weekend.
In Charlottesville VA Saturday afternoon a gutsy Virginia Cavaliers squad had knocked ninth-ranked Notre Dame’s QB Malik Zaire from the game and stormed back to find themselves with the ball…first-and-goal just outside the Irish’s goal line…with less than two minutes remaining down only 26-21.
This writer has always felt in situations when you are playing a team you would lose to nine of ten times…if not all ten…and you have them on the ropes you do ANYTHING possible to give them the ball back with as little time possible. The Irish had timeouts on their side if not their starting signal-caller. Notre Dame has better athletes. Yet Virginia had played solid football and was blessed with an opportunity for a huge, program-defining upset.
And they scored a touchdown on the very next play.
Which of course meant Notre Dame eventually captured a 34-27 win.
If I’m running Virginia’s sideline instead of HC Mike London I’m snapping that ball and having my QB fall forward ever so slightly…not scoring. Clock running. Irish now face burning a timeout or letting precious time slip away. Make Notre Dame make a critical decision. Virginia would still have three downs to score a TD ultimately better served being scored as close to the final gun as possible. Maybe even run a second no-advance play. Never, ever give the better team the ball back with time outs and time no matter if their mascot is playing quarterback. The underdog has to manage the clock and manage to get as much time off of it…or force the favorite to lose some ability to stop it later. The gift of time and the ability to manage it better had been given to Notre Dame. And a leprechaun wasn’t playing quarterback for the Irish. DeShone Kizer was.
In St. Louis MO Sunday afternoon the Super Bowl runner-up Seattle Seahawks found themselves kicking off to start overtime after battling the upstart, inspired St, Louis Rams to a 31-all draw in regulation. Seattle decided to kick off the extra session…with an onside kick.
Seahawks HC Pete Carroll apparently is not satisfied with his current reputation of being the worst play-caller alive (you might recall the Super Bowl…).
And then Carroll had the nerve to gutlessly put the blame on kicker Steven Hauschka for mishitting it. He said he wanted the ball to go farther. Since you’re the superior team Pete…maybe kick it all the way down the field? How about that for farther?
The Rams proceeded to kick a field goal with the gift of a shortened field. They then held the Seahawks on their OT possession…ironically ending the game stuffing a play Carroll SHOULD have called at the end of the Super Bowl…a quick hand off to RB Marshawn Lynch. Then again…if the Rams stopped Lynch maybe the Patriots would have?
In Dallas TX Sunday night the New York Giants and their QB Eli Manning found themselves at the Dallas Cowboys’ goal line with less than two minutes left and the lead, 23-20. The Giants’ checklist as follows…
Throw pass out of bounds to stop the clock on third down. Check.
Kick field goal on fourth down to go up 26-20. Check.
Lose game 27-26. Check.
Giants HC Tom Coughlin wasn’t the guy who threw the ball out of bounds on third down. But why pass…to put the game away? OK…then why not go for it on fourth down to either ice the game or force the Cowboys to start a final possession essentially from their end zone?
Another gridiron gift.
They say it’s not the gift that counts as much as all the thought behind it.
Not so much thought on these…