The real crime, I think, was the hat. Image: AP
Hey what a SUPER wildcard weekend am I right? We may not have seen great NFL football, or great officialdom, or even great decisions from players and coaches alike, but we did see a lot of chaos. And as we all know, unless your team is groping in the dark despite the glare of the national spotlight, the real fun begins in chaos. But with apologies to the Vikings, Dolphins, and Ravens fans, let’s take a look at some of the truly horrifying, yet somewhat hysterical, ending decisions from yesterday.
I gotta bring the piece in, Mike
We’ll start with the first game of the day, Dolphins – Bills. Could Miami survive and thrive without Tua? Is Josh Allen the Next Patrick Mahomes? Is this finally the year the Bills Mafia get their ultimate reward? Perhaps. And this one was a lot closer than it probably should have been, thanks to three turnovers from Allen. Still, America waited breathlessly on the edge of its seat… when Miami head coach Mike McDaniel inexplicably let a minute go by without getting a game. Look:
What did McDaniel have to say for himself afterwards? Reader, he said the following:
“There was some noise from the crowd to do with misreading some digits on the bracelet. There were some problems with communication and getting to the line of scrimmage.
“And there’s the excuse you don’t use, that’s a real composite variable, that there’s a lot of different people in the group where there’s communicating — if you’re in a nice routine, or maybe there’s a group of offensive linemen who are communicated with by the same person. When you have a flux like this it happens, it shouldn’t happen as often as it did.
We used a group of players to make the first and 10 call. It was articulated, no, it was fourth place. That miscommunication – that’s all you do in this business. You never stop finding things to improve on. And it was part of the reason we couldn’t come out with a win. But that was definitely not the only reason.”
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That’s really more of a description of what happened than an explanation, but okay. The worst part was McDaniel saying all of this while still wearing a really awful Dolphins hat that was meant to look distressed and jittery to me, but ended up looking like multiple people had been sweating in it multiple times. Yarg.
Kirk Cousins: Never non-conservative
Next we have the Vikings and Giants and kudos to our Jon Hoefling for getting this one right. The Vikings never looked great (although Kirk Cousins actually played pretty well), but at no point did they look worse than in the last game:
So that was by no means the actual play call, was it? That had to be a check. And if you watch a play that runs all season, what do you have Justin Jefferson for anyway? Seems like the time to let one fly and hope Jefferson pulls it off is in the dying seconds of a game where the postseason is at stake, right? Oh. It doesn’t matter how well Cousins played on Sunday – this is the only game anyone will remember.
Here’s what Cousins had to say:
“Yes, it was just a shell that was read there. I watched single-high (reporting) and tried to edit Justin (Jefferson) and didn’t feel good about blaming Justin for it. And when I went to progress, I felt like I was about to be fired. I felt like I had to put the ball in play. I couldn’t go down with a sack.
So I just threw it out to TJ, and I’d fallen short on a few occasions in-game and a few weeks ago. I just felt like throwing the sticks too short is not the end of the world and it was obviously tight coverage. But I felt like I was going to go down and take a sack and put it out.”
Understandable, I suppose, but you can’t dance around shirtless in giant chains after a win and then choose the safe option when it counts. Cousins have always had a reputation for being too conservative by the half (on and off the field) and Sunday’s decision won’t sway anyone.
Finally, we bring ourselves to Sunday’s final game, Ravens – Bengals. We all knew Lamar Jackson was on the bench for that case, which was the source of disappointingly reluctant beef among former players. But even without Jackson on the field, Baltimore had a chance.
What the hell was John Harbaugh doing?
Head coach John Harbaugh got off to a rocky start at Ravens-Bengals after being a complete jerk to reporter Melissa Stark before halftime:
Harbaugh’s bad day continued as his team huddled TWICE in the final minute of the game, trailing 24-17. Not only that, Harbaugh allowed TWO timeouts on the board until there was only 8 seconds left. And then Harbaugh took a break when the clock had already stopped. What in the name of all that is holy…
Guess what happened? YOU RUN OUT OF TIME. QB Tyler Huntley hoisted one into the sky that almost brought Baltimore down. Imagine what they could have done if they had actually, oh I don’t know, used time out to reset and call a play? Haven’t we reached the point in American football where kids spend years learning clock management through Madden? Is there anyone on Harbaugh’s staff under 40?
Anyhow, here’s what Harbaugh had to say:
“We wanted to save the time-outs for the red zone. What killed us was the detention. That set us back. The idea was that we wanted to keep those timeouts to throw the ball. So we tried to make a run there, after that we wanted to call a timeout and we would still have a run/pass option. We wanted to score a goal without returning the ball. We think we’re going to get into the red zone, we think it’s going to be a certain number of games and we’re going to work until the end of the game. Instead of scoring 30, 35 seconds before the end, you give them a chance to score a field goal at the end.
“So, I think we played it right. Didn’t work out in the sense that we had incomplete passes afterwards. When you complete the passes, you get the ball in the red zone, you call the timeouts. So I think at an elementary level you can say, “Ah (expletive), they should have used the downtime.” But we had the timeouts working properly.”
In the iconic words of J. Peterman, that’s certainly a lot of words. I don’t really know what to say, except that nothing “worked right” about that last minute, there’s no way Harbaugh will convince anyone that it worked, and that canceling your red zone timeouts only works if if you can actually get into the red zone.
Can’t wait to see what tonight brings.