In the playoffs, every decision becomes enhanced. That includes the stupid ones, which is why it’s easy to keep providing readers with This weekend in NFL stupid despite the lower quantity of games.
This week’s winner is obvious. Congratulations, Andy Reid!
Did the Kansas City Chiefs think there was a fifth quarter?
This wasn’t the first time Reid’s offense moved at a famously slow pace with a complete lack of urgency late in a playoff game despite having a veteran quarterback, and it won’t likely be the last.
Down two touchdowns with 6:29 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Alex Smith-led Chiefs took over on offense at their own 20-yard line. They proceeded to put together a 16-play touchdown drive to make it a one-score game. Now, 16 plays is less than ideal, but Kansas City doesn’t really have a home-run offense, so that’s understandable.
What’s not understandable is how the Chiefs managed to take 5:16 off the clock on said drive, leaving just 1:13 to work with.
Unsurprisingly, they’d never get the ball back.
Again, New England’s defense is good and was playing safe, so I’m not blaming you for taking the underneath stuff. But if you do that, you still have to be prepared to move at an extremely fast pace.
Let’s go over how sluggish the Chiefs were on this drive by examining how much time they let run off the clock between some plays:
2nd-and-8 at the Kansas City 22-yard line: After Smith scrambles and goes out of bounds for a short gain, the clock is wound. As that’s happening, you can see Smith walking back to the huddle the way a quarterback might if he had a 10-point lead.
Wasted time: The Chiefs would let 23 seconds run off the clock, despite the fact the officials didn’t wind the clock for 10 seconds. Had they hustled, they could have easily saved 15 seconds.
1st-and-10 at the Kansas City 38-yard line: After Smith completes a pass to Chris Conley (who stupidly stays in bounds, costing his team about eight seconds), Smith rushes to the line of scrimmage but then takes 23 seconds to actually get the snap off in the “hurry-up.”
Wasted time: Should have been five seconds faster, which means they could have saved about 13 seconds.
3rd-and-8 at the Kansas City 40-yard line: Conley gets out of bounds after a short gain, and again it appears the Chiefs aren’t aware of the fact the officials will be winding the clock. They don’t run back to the huddle or anything, completely throwing away the 12 seconds of frozen time before the clock is wound.
Wasted time: Finally Smith gets the snap off at 4:51, but this should have taken 20 seconds tops. In other words, they wasted about nine seconds.
1st-and-10 at the New England 32-yard line: The final play ended with 4:02 on the clock, but the next snap didn’t get off for 25 seconds.
Wasted time: We’ll be kind and give them 20 in a proper hurry-up situation, which means five more seconds were wasted.
1st-and-10 at the New England 20-yard line: The final play ended with 3:24 on the clock, but the next snap didn’t get off for 24 seconds.
Wasted time: With the same expectation as above, it’s four seconds.
1st-and-goal at the New England 1-yard line: Albert Wilson makes a catch and — despite having a chance to get out of bounds at the New England 3-yard line with 2:54 to play, pushes for two more yards but stays in bounds with 2:52 to play. His chances of getting into the end zone were slim to none, so he should have gone out of bounds.
Wasted time: It took them a reasonable 20 seconds to get the snap off, but Wilson could have saved them two seconds on the play and 20 on the clock. So 22 seconds are gone.
2nd-and-goal at the New England 2-yard line: Charcandrick West loses a yard on the ground. Running is highly questionable in the first place, but amazingly they don’t get another snap off before the two-minute warning.
Wasted time: West was tackled with 2:28 to play. But at that point there should have been at least 3:36 on the clock. If we’re to assume that they would have gotten the next snap off in about 20 seconds (being very generous considering that didn’t happen in the real world), the Chiefs wasted another eight seconds here.
3rd-and-3 on the New England 3-yard line: After another throw leaves them short of the end zone, the Chiefs HUDDLE. Yes, coming out of the two-minute warning, they don’t have two plays called.
Wasted time: It took them 28 seconds to get the next snap off. The pass should have gone into the end zone anyway, which means they wasted 28 seconds.
Total time wasted: 1:44
Time left on ensuing kickoff: 1:13
Time that should have been left: 2:57
More stupid from an entertaining weekend…
Second-half timeouts: It’s simple, timeouts should only be used in the second half in order to manage the clock. They’re simply too valuable to use simply because you’re uncomfortable before a snap. A five-yard penalty is far less likely to cost you a game than not having that timeout in crunch time. And yet this weekend Seattle hurt itself in a major way with two second-half timeouts pre-crunch time. Denver did the same thing. And so did Green Bay. Silly challenges, silly quarterback decisions pre-snap. Just unacceptable.
Or lack thereof: It was also really stupid of Seattle not to use its final timeout on defense when Carolina was getting ready to punt with 3:35 left. You have the ability to control the clock on offense with spikes and the sidelines, but that’s not the case on defense. In crunch time, you always use your timeouts on defense. Never save them for offense. That probably cost the Seahawks 20 seconds.
The idea that a returner can make contact with a punt outside of the end zone, knock it into or through the end zone and give his team the ball at the 20-yard line via a touchback: Yup, that came up in Denver, where Martavis Bryant made contact but didn’t gain possession of a punt at the 7-yard line, then dove on the ball in the end zone. Technically, the muff took place in the end zone, thus it was a touchback. But that loophole needs to be eliminated.
This means a returner can stand at the 5 yard line and just punch the ball behind him out of the back of the end zone and it's a touchback.
— Phillip Bupp (@phillipbupp) January 18, 2016
Pittsburgh’s wimpy decision to punt rather than just run a safe play or take a shot from the Denver 34-yard line: I understand that you don’t want your rookie kicker attempting a 52-yarder into a strong wind and that the broncos weren’t doing much on offense, but you gained 14 yards by punting. You’re much better off running a screen for five yards and hoping to get lucky with a defensive penalty or some missed tackles.
The notion that Peyton Manning was “giving himself up” on this play: Regardless of how it looked, there’s no logical reason to give yourself up there. It was simply an unathletic play.
The fact this wasn’t called defensive pass interference: And really everything the officials did in Green Bay-Arizona.