Lions coach Dan Campbell, Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles and Colts interim coach Jeff Saturday all cost their teams games in Week 12 with poor game management in the fourth quarter.
In the modern NFL, where margins are razor thin and rewards for winning have never been more lucrative, bad coaching stands out more than ever. And it’s less likely franchise owners will stand for it.
Campbell managed Detroit’s offense into the disastrous middle ground of settling for a late, game-tying field goal, while leaving the Bills’ Josh Allen enough time to drive Buffalo downfield quickly for the winning kick.
The Lions got the ball down three points at their own 25 yard line with 2:30 remaining and all three of their timeouts. But when Amon-Ra St. Brown was tackled at Buffalo’s 32 yard line with 32 seconds left, and a first down was initially awarded, Campbell waited 11 seconds to use his first timeout at 21 seconds.
The ball was moved back one yard for a 3rd and 1 upon review of the spot, so the officials put those 11 seconds back on the clock. But then Campbell allowed a deep pass attempt that fell incomplete — rather than going for the first down, using his second timeout, and pressing for a touchdown — and settled for a 51-yard field goal that barely squeaked through for the tie.
The Bills promptly did what good teams do: they made Detroit pay for its mistake.
“I guess there at the end I could have bled it all the way down and played for the field goal,” Campbell said.
Bowles’ Bucs lost to their Browns, meanwhile, despite getting the ball on their own 25-yard line in a tie game with 32 seconds remaining and all three of their timeouts.
One reason? After Tom Brady completed a 1-yard screen pass to Rachaad White on first down, Bowles didn’t call a timeout. The clock ran from 27 seconds to 14 before Brady’s next snap.
So even though Brady hit Julio Jones for a deep completion across midfield, Tampa only had time for two more incompletions, never got into field goal range, and lost in overtime.
Postgame, Bowles’ answer was astounding when asked why he didn’t even use a timeout on the previous defensive possession to try and preserve more time for his offense.
“No, that clock was gonna run down,” Bowles said. “We didn’t have enough to stop it right there. So it was overtime right off the top. Julio made a great play, then we couldn’t get there — it was going to overtime.”
The next day, Bowles said the Bucs coaches had predetermined that if Brady didn’t get a lot of yards on his first-down play, they would let the clock run. He also said he was trying to guard against Brady throwing an interception, even though Brady has thrown just two picks in 470 attempts this season.
And the Colts’ Saturday, of course, refused to call timeout down seven points after a Matt Ryan scramble. The play began with 59 seconds. The next snap happened at 34 seconds. Indy was stopped on fourth down and lost.
Saturday stubbornly insisted postgame that he thought his offense had plenty of time but later admitted: “I wish I had that third down back and in all honesty, wish I would have called a timeout.”
This isn’t supposed to be some coaches’ training ground. This is the NFL. And these are the kinds of mistakes that lead to coaching changes.
JULIAN ‘LOVES’ GIANTS, BUT CAN’T SACRIFICE VALUE
Giants captain Julian Love, whose representatives had contract extension talks with the team during the Week 9 bye, told the Daily News Friday on the “Talkin’ Ball with Pat Leonard” podcast that he would love to re-sign with the Giants, but he can’t sacrifice his value. He has left a comfortable situation for a better opportunity before, so the ball will be in the Giants’ court.
“All else being equal, I would love to stay a Giant,” Love said. “I really appreciate this community, the fan base, the people in the building. It’s fun. I really love it here. Me and my wife love it here. I never saw myself as an East coast, Jersey, New York guy. I was a Midwest kid. And we now love it out here, maybe a little more than we do back home in Chicago. It’s a special place and special organization. And I believe in what [GM Joe] Schoen and [head coach Brian] Daboll are doing. But at the same time, I can’t sacrifice kinda what I think my value is. And so that’s the challenge.”
Love’s value has never been higher. He’s having a career year. He leads the Giants defense with 83 tackles and two interceptions, and he calls the plays. Adoree Jackson has the second-most tackles with 51. Love is a captain for both the defense and special teams. And he’s getting plenty of Pro Bowl votes heading into unrestricted free agency.
Love said “it’s funny because I’ve been in this situation before in terms of leaving Notre Dame.
“I loved that school,” he continued. “I loved my friends that were there. It was perfect. Everything was meshing, everything was vibing. And then the best situation came up for me to declare for the draft and I had to do it. It broke my heart, but I had to do it. So you gotta kinda have this wariness as we go into this contract.
“And yeah, we haven’t been talking [since the bye] as the season’s been going on. I just gotta play ball,” he added. “But after the season that’s the conversation that will be had. So what I can do for myself is continue to play well, show my value, and then really it’s up to the Giants on that point. Because they know where I stand in loving this organization.”
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Disgraced quarterback Deshaun Watson makes his season debut Sunday for the Cleveland Browns (4-7) against his old Houston Texans (1-9-1) team, with his 11-game suspension for myriad alleged sexual assaults and harassment complete. So continues Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s embarrassing commitment to and enabling of an unaccountable person and player. … The Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) at the Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) is the game of the week, a rematch of last year’s 27-24 Bengals AFC Championship Game road win, this time on Cincy’s home turf. Joe Burrow’s Bengals have won five of their last six, and defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo once again is one of Cincinnati’s primary catalysts. … Keep Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh in mind for coaching candidates to watch in the 2023 NFL hiring cycle. Harbaugh interviewed for the Minnesota Vikings opening last year, and with the Wolverines headed for the college football playoff, don’t be surprised if Harbaugh jumped at the right opportunity to get back to the pros.
COUGHLIN RELEASES ‘A GIANT WIN’
On Dec. 6, football fans can buy a copy of two-time Super Bowl winning Giants coach Tom Coughlin’s new book, A Giant Win: Inside the New York Giants’ Historic Upset over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, with author Greg Hanlon.
Coughlin takes fans into his thinking and experience surrounding and during that landmark victory, including his process in trying to repair his relationships with both the media and his players entering the 2007 season.
“Far and away, the most important thing I did as far as relating to the players in ‘07 was creating the leadership council,” Coughlin says. “The council created a sense of accountability by deputizing the veterans to be extensions of the coach. It’s easy enough for a player to think screw this guy when it comes to a coach. It’s a lot harder to have that attitude toward Michael Strahan.”
Coughlin tells that story in a chapter entitled “Last Year It Was My Ass.” A must-read for Giant fans.
THEY SAID IT
“Ya’ll are crowded around me, but I know just about as much as ya’ll.” — Giants receiver Sterling Shepard, definitely not lying, on not knowing where Odell Beckham Jr. intends to sign.