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Redskins and Time Management

I grant you that I've never called an NFL game, and that everything seems easier from the press box, but I still don't understand why you spike the ball on first-and-goal from the 1 with nearly a minute left. First-and-goal is like Friday at 5 pm: everything is possible. Second-and-goal is like when you first wake up on Saturday morning: you know you've already wasted the moment of sheer joy and possibility, and now the gloomy end is in sight.

Forget the stupid analogies; most importantly, the Redskins just didn't need to be in that much of a hurry, and the Giants' defense was on its heels. If the Skins had taken 12 more seconds to gather themselves and call a quick pass play, and the ball was incomplete, there would have been at least 30 seconds left on the clock, probably more. (The first-down play was spiked with 51 seconds left.) The Redskins' second, third and fourth down plays were all snapped within 26 seconds, according to the official play-by-play, so even with 30 seconds left, they could have called the exact same sequence they ended up calling.

Would there be risks? Sure. Campbell could be sacked, or throw complete but short of the end zone, and then second down would be either chaotic or would demand a spike. But those are the same risks inherent in the second-down pass play they actually called, and they're more than mitigated by the fact that you'd have a chance to run a play against a reeling defense with all the momentum on your side. Which is why the million stories like this one from NYC media, about the hard-nosed Giants defense that decided it just wasn't going to give up that final yard, are, in a word, dumb. Why did the defense decide to give up the previous 64 yards? Just for fun? The defense was in trouble, and the Redskins bailed them out by willingly halting their momentum and forfeiting one-fourth of their chances at the end zone.

I'm not second-guessing here; I was screaming about this as soon as it happened. And when you couple this with the near-disaster at the end of the second quarter in Philadelphia, you just have to wonder what's going on with the under-two-minute clock management. Yeah, there were dozens of other moments to pick apart, but this one strikes me as basic math, evident to any dummy like me.

The AP says Gibbs said he called the plays in that final sequence, but none of the rest of us heard Gibbs say such a thing, and a team spokesman talked to Gibbs and said this was not the case.

Newsday: "Jason Campbell's decision to spike the ball on first-and-goal from the Giants' 1 seemed like a smart play at the time, but it gave the Giants' defense a chance to regroup after being stung for two long completions. A quick sneak would have tied the score." The New York Post called it "questionable time management," but I can't find much else on the matter.

By Dan Steinberg  |  September 24, 2007; 10:14 AM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Next: LaVar Still Doesn't Like Gibbs


It's unreal.

Posted by: Unsilent Majority | September 24, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

It was an outrageously stupid call... they should've run a simple play, see if anyone was open and if no one was: throw it away... can't take more than an extra 10 seconds... no composure..

Posted by: kwamesnani | September 24, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Steinz, that analogy was so sweet, I just scheduled an appointment with a dentist.

Great job.

Posted by: | September 24, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

The strange thing is, in the first Gibbs era there were never any time management problems. Back in the 80s, if you gave Theismann one timeout and a minute on the clock, he could go the length of the field for a winning TD or field goal pretty consistently. Could it be there's too many coaches trying to make up their minds?

Posted by: Fingerman | September 24, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Time management was a clear issue and, certainly, this is the first time you've seen Campbell lack that poise people tout him on. But isn't the bigger issue that the Redskins were in control of a game against a dvision rival and then laid an egg in the second half?

While the Giants played with passion and emotion on both sides of the ball, the Redskins' offense became stagnant and the defense began to tear at the seems. The Redskins had the talent and confidence to win, but it was the Giants wanted the game more than the end. And now we all have a bye week to think about it.

Posted by: Illegal Immigrant | September 25, 2007 12:51 AM | Report abuse

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