January 12, 2004

The divisional round of the NFL playoffs this weekend was one of the closest ever (four games decided by 19 points), featuring a double-overtime game, the first playoff in NFL history without a punt, and the worst pass ever thrown by Brett Favre.

posted by rcade to football at 08:28 AM - 22 comments

Worst coaching call: Mike Martz playing it safe and going for a field goal with 50+ seconds left in regulation or Mike Sherman punting on fourth-and-1 instead of giving the ball to 150+ yard gainer Ahman Green?

posted by rcade at 08:29 AM on January 12, 2004

Easily Martz. Martz had downs to play with; if Green gets stuffed, its a turnover, and a free trip to second-guess city. Besides, the "play it safe, go for the FG" play was far from Martz' only coaching gaffe of the day.

posted by jeffmshaw at 08:36 AM on January 12, 2004

I feel sooooo bad for Brett Favre. I really hope that's not the end of his NFL career. My picks for next week: Pats over Colts in what should be an incredible game (unless, once again, it's just too damn cold for the ball to go anywhere) with a pretty close score, and Eagles over the Panthers by a decent margin.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:53 AM on January 12, 2004

GB not going for it on 4th-and-1 to run out the clock and avoid OT with either a Favre QB sneak or Ahman Green run was a pretty bad move too. As was KC not kicking an onside kick after making it 38-31. Their defense wasn't stopping Indy so why give them the ball back to run down the clock (and maybe add more points). Should've gambled big. I like Carolina's style of shake-and-bake running (as opposed to the grind it up the middle old school Bears style). Philly looks beatable at home if they play like that again next week. Happy to see NE win another but I do wish they'd make it easier for us fans and put the other team away. TN's pass D was more impressive than I thought it would be (maybe the cold helped there). Does anyone know if Antowain Smith will be able to play next week? Next week? Pats over Colts in a close game that comes down to Manning interceptions. Carolina over Philly by taking an early lead, letting Philly get back in late but this time not letting it go to OT.

posted by kokaku at 09:18 AM on January 12, 2004

This has been one of the more exciting NFL playoffs in recent memory.

posted by jasonspaceman at 09:18 AM on January 12, 2004

I've had to see a doctor to ungrit my teeth after this weekend.

posted by forksclovetofu at 09:34 AM on January 12, 2004

Re: Green Bay. The 4th and a long 1 was not a bad decsion in my opinion. It looked to be a good one until the mangled mid-field converage on 4th and 26. I'd like to see Pats over Colts. But the Colts look like they might be on another level. Two straight games without a punt. Whoa.

posted by dzot at 09:40 AM on January 12, 2004

Unfortunately, I didn't see the Saturday games - they weren't broadcast on the radio - and half-watched the Indy/KC shootout at my parents' place. Impressive. I think Peyton's gonna take the Colts over the Pats. Colts vs. Cats, anyone? I caught the Packer game on the radio, and today everyone in Packerland is turbo-pissed: "They gave the game away!" Fire Sherman!" "Goddamn secondary!" Personally, I thought it was a great game, and both Philly and GB played hard enough to earn the win. Ah, the price of turnovers. I don't know who will win the conference championships. I *want* the Colts to win. I *want* the Panthers to win.

posted by rocketman at 09:43 AM on January 12, 2004

The Eagles couldn't stop Ahman Green all day long. Sherman, who seems like a pretty lousy big game coach, should have given him a chance to ice the game. The Eagles were trying hard to lose that game, and I expect the Panthers to give them a fight. I don't think the Colts have much of a chance in New England, barring some unseasonably warm and mild weather.

posted by rcade at 09:45 AM on January 12, 2004

I liked trying to draw the defence offside before settling on the punt. What made it really bad was the punter completely messed up the punt (total gain: 20 yards) and that abysmal 4th'n'26 defence by Green Bay. And before Favre threw that interception, he had gotten REAL lucky with a couple of his other throws late in the 4th quarter. He could have been intercepted at least twice (where the defender had a better chance at catching it than the receiver). The Colts looked absolutely unstoppable yesterday. How weird it must be for the punter: he hasn't punted in a game in over 2 weeks. Does he even bother going in the shower afterwards?

posted by grum@work at 10:23 AM on January 12, 2004

The games this weekend were incredible. All of them. Mike "The Human Blunder" Martz has one over-riding problem as a head coach and it's that he forgets he has Marshall Faulk on his team. He needs his head examined. Peyton Manning is downright unbelievable right now. The Pats/Indy game should be awesome. Given the choice between going for it on 4th & 1 or stopping a 4th & 26 in order to ice a game, I choose the second option. The players lost that one for Sherman, not the other way around.

posted by 86 at 10:28 AM on January 12, 2004

Here's hoping the punter will be rusty and giving good field position when NE finally shows the league how you stop Indy.

posted by kokaku at 10:29 AM on January 12, 2004

86: Agreed on those options, but when it's 4th & 1 you don't know that you'll be putting Philly at 4th & 26 shortly. Going by what you know at that moment: Philly isn't stopping Ahman Green, Philly is on their 41 if you fail to get 1st down, your punt probably isn't going to get you a lot (in this case GB got 26 yards after the delay of game penalty), your players are good at stepping up when the situation calls for it. In that situation, I still think you gamble big and go for it, though I absolutely agree that the players fail later on the 4th and 26 (and that after a brilliant 16 yard sack).

posted by kokaku at 10:35 AM on January 12, 2004

Check out this Fox Sports clip from Sunday: Rush Limbaugh on the Packers-Eagles (first link in results).

posted by rcade at 10:38 AM on January 12, 2004

Is that the Eagles owner they kept showing that looked just like SNL's Lorne Michaels? Creepy. I was thoroughly impressed with Manning's preparation and the fact that at the end of every drive, he was on the sidelines continuing to do his homework. If he prepares that hard for this Sunday's game, the Colts may just pull it off. Can someone answer me this though: Why is it that no NFL team has two different kickers, one for kick-offs and one for FG's and Extra Points. It seems to me that a guy that can bang the kick-off for a touchback nine times out of ten would be worth a couple a hundred grand a year, no? The starting field positions in pretty much all of the games this past weekend was excellent.

posted by Ufez Jones at 11:03 AM on January 12, 2004

Ufez, some teams do carry two place kickers. It's rare because of roster space restrictions, but you'll see it from time to time. The even better solution is to have a punter with a stong leg who is capable of kicking off or kicking long field goals as well as his normal duties. Steve Cox, a Redskin from ages ago, used to do this. "86: Agreed on those options, but when it's 4th & 1 you don't know that you'll be putting Philly at 4th & 26 shortly..." You don't know, but it's exactly what your hoping for. It is the best of the best case scenarios. Based on the fact they got into that position, I think the move worked out in Sherman's favor... until his squad effed it up. I would have gone for it, but I find it hard not to defend the decision based on the fact it clearly wasn't the decision that cost GB the game.

posted by 86 at 11:15 AM on January 12, 2004

For me, Sherman's decision boils down to this: Which is more likely -- your offense will gain one yard, or your defense will stop Philadelphia from moving 50-85 yards into field goal position? I think the likelihood of gaining one yard was a lot higher, especially on the road.

posted by rcade at 11:36 AM on January 12, 2004

And especially considering McNabb. At that point in the game, I think it was clear that Green Bay wasn't doing the best job of containing him.

posted by rocketman at 11:52 AM on January 12, 2004

Every single fucking coach and commentator says this during the postseason: "You've got to be aggressive to win in the playoffs!" Martz and Sherman (in my mind, particularly Martz) may have proved this.

posted by Skot at 12:01 PM on January 12, 2004

Fire Martz. Fire the GB secondary coach or defensive coordinator, whoever called that cover 2 alignment on 4th & 26. 4 great games, no doubt. Next weekend: It's a Pats' world, we're just living in it. I don't think the Panthers have what it takes to beat the Eagles on the road but if some of the Eagles' defensive injuries are worse than could be seen onscreen yesterday...

posted by billsaysthis at 01:11 PM on January 12, 2004

As a Bills fan who's just endured two years of watching our coaching staff forget that there's a pretty good running back in town, watching Martz coach always gives me flashbacks. Martz: "Third-and-one? Marshall who? Throw it!" Gregg Williams and Kevin Gilbride: "Third-and-one? Travis who? Throw it!"

posted by Jaquandor at 01:18 PM on January 12, 2004

Now is it my imagination, or has "going for it" on 4th down become much more popular in the last few years? It seems that ten years ago it was rare to see, except in situations where the team was pretty much forced to because of the game situation. Now it seems to be a standard tactic if you're within three yards or so. And yes, I think that while I wish that Sherman had gone for it, I can understand why he didn't. Martz, in my book, does not have a good excuse. I was rooting for Carolina, and I was elated when the Rams elected not to try to score in a situation where, barring a turnover, they had nothing to lose. Laying aside the fact that field-goal attempts are not without their own forms of risk, the things he was scared might happen to his offense if they tried for a touchdown were just as likely in overtime (and, indeed came to pass; Bulger was picked off, setting up Carolina's game-winning touchdown). Even if St. Louis got the ball first in overtime, they had not been able to move very consistently against the Carolina defense (except on that last drive in regulation, where I still think the defense was looking so shaky the Rams could have easily scored). So even if Martz was going for the "safe" course, I don't think he picked the right one.

posted by deadcowdan at 02:36 PM on January 12, 2004

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.