Before I even get started here, let me first acknowledge that the following series had absolutely nothing to do with the outcome of the game, but it’s a game situation that I see NFL coaches repeatedly screw up, and it just kills me every time I see it. And so, I just can’t let it go un-nitpicked.
Dallas had the ball with 1st and 10 at the Redskins’ 25 yard line with 2:08 left to play in the game. The Redskins were up by 2, but Dallas was clearly in control of the game at this point. They were in FG range and their kicker was 5 for 5 on the night, with all 5 kicks right down the middle. The strategy for Dallas in this scenario is obvious – Burn as much time off the clock and waste as many of the Skins’ timeouts as you can before you kick the go-ahead FG. Washington still had all 3 of their timeouts, so if Dallas didn’t get another first down, the Skins would have one last chance to drive down to kick a game-winning FG of their own.
So what happened?
– (2:08) – Tashard Choice off right tackle to the WAS 24 for 1 yard.
OK, so there’s one stop. From here, you let it go down to the 2 minute warning, you retain all 3 of your timeouts, and you’re all but certain that the Cowboys, trying to burn up your 2 of your 3 remaining timeouts, will run two more times, so you can load up against the run and get a couple of easy stops. If they want to risk stopping the clock by throwing an incomplete pass, by all means, go right ahead.
But wait… What?!?!?
– Timeout #1 by WAS at 02:03.
Now, the Cowboys, with just 3 seconds until the 2-minute warning, knowing the clock is going to stop anyway no matter what they run, whether that be a run, pass, double reverse flea flicker, Annexation of Puerto Rico, or whatever, have their entire playbook open to them.
Back in ’09, the Raiders were faced with a similar situation against Philly. They passed, got the first down, and killed the clock from there, ending the game without leaving the Eagles one last chance to drive down the field. As it turned out, the Cowboys decided to run Tashard Choice into the line for no gain anyway.
In the end, the Skins actually did save those extra 3 seconds. But it’s still the wrong move – the reward is hardly worth the risk.
Or maybe the Skins were hoping Dallas would pass, behind the Cowboys’ offensive line disaster waiting to happen? Great, now I’ve just ruined my own 450-word post of something that didn’t really affect the game anyway. What do you guys think, or did I just waste 5 minutes of your life?