NFL Wild card weekend in stupid, feat. poor timeout usage

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, Bill O’Brien!

In Houston, stupid and cute were the same thing

Poor O’Brien lost his first playoff game as a head coach in embarrassing shutout fashion at home. And while the Houston Texans probably would have lost handily regardless, one particularly silly and over-thought play stands out as the stupidest from wild-card weekend.

With the game still within reach, the Texans offense was finally starting to roll. They had gained 49 yards on a run for Alfred Blue followed by eight on a direct-snap to Jonathan Grimes and were set up with a 3rd-and-2 inside Kansas City’s 5-yard line.

That’s when O’Brien decided to bring both J.J. Watt AND Vince Wilfork into the game.

It did not work out.


“Credit Kansas City,” said Jon Gruden. “They knew exactly where that ball was going.”

Yeah, we all did.

Brian Hoyer threw an interception on the fourth-down play and that was pretty much all she wrote for O’Brien’s Texans.

More stupid from a wild weekend…

The Bengals used a timeout midway through the fourth quarter of a one-score game. When are coaches and quarterbacks going to realize that you’re better off taking a five-yard penalty than throwing away one of three timeouts in a close game? These guys continue to underestimate how valuable those things are.

The Seahawks used a timeout midway through the third quarter of a one-score game. Same deal here. Third down and they decided to call timeout rather than move back five yards. On the next play, Russell Wilson threw an interception anyway. Had Minnesota made that 27-yard field goal late, the Seahawks would have had only 20 seconds to respond. But had Wilson not used that timeout, they would have had about a minute. That literally might have been the difference between a win and a loss. Fortunately for them, Blair Walsh made it moot.

The Packers used a timeout midway through the third quarter of a one-score game. It didn’t cost them, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t stupid.

The Chiefs settled for two 49-yard field goals on a pair on 4th-and-1 plays in the second quarter. I know, it didn’t wind up hurting them. But when are coaches going to realize that the odds of converting on 4th-and-1 are similar to the odds of making a long kick? Going for it on 4th-and-1 inside enemy territory should be automatic.

The Redskins punted inside Green Bay territory down two touchdowns with less than 10 minutes left: Sure, it was 4th-and-19, but by punting there you’re almost conceding. The Packers offense was on fire, so the odds of stopping them and scoring twice were very slim. With the ball at the 46, you’re not gaining enough on the punt to rationalize giving the ball away. A conversion there is unlikely, but maybe you draw a penalty or get lucky. Regardless, it’s a better option than kicking it away all so that Green Bay has to start its next possession 30 yards deeper. Punting there is ludicrous.

Something to do with intentional grounding. I don’t like that it is rarely called, even when all of the criteria appears to have been met. And I don’t think the criteria suits the spirit of the rule in the first place. Wilson gets away with what should be intentional grounding more often than anyone else in the game, and this play sure seemed to violate the spirit of the rule…


Same here…


About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at, Deadspin,, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.