Football is an emotional game.
In the NFL, emotions can fuel game-winning drives. They can power goal-line stands and elevate the confidence of players, as we saw this week in what was a sensational victory for Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts against the Miami Dolphins.
However, emotions can also lead to penalties, turnovers, play-calling hubris and—in the case of Mike Shanahan—make you say something you wish you could take back.
I label these momentary lapses in judgement as boneheaded.
Whenever a trick play is called, only two possibilities exist.
Either you convert and you look like a genius, or you fail and look like an idiot.
Facing a 4th-and-1 early in the fourth quarter, the Pittsburgh Steelers attempted a fake field goal against the New York Giants, who didn't fall for it. The Steelers holder flipped the ball over his head to the kicker, who was subsequently buried by the Giants.
Steelers running back Issac Redman was a wrecking ball all game, rushing for 147 yards. Why not plug him on 4th-and-1? Why not kick the field goal? A successful field-goal kick would have tied the game at 20.
Luckily for the Steelers, this boneheaded play call didn't cost them a victory, as they left New York with a 24-20 victory.
By now, you are quite aware that Doug Martin had himself a ballgame on Sunday.
With an 11-point lead and just under 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Tampa Bay elected to rest Doug Martin and entrust the rushing duties to LeGarrette Blount.
Blount, who had not carried the football before this series, took the first two handoffs for a total of five yards. On the third, Josh Freeman's exchange to Blount failed, resulting in a fumble recovery for the Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders capiltalized off the turnerover by scoring a touchdown.
It's impossible to know for certain, but its tough to imagine that the fumble would have occured with Martin in the game.
Like the Steelers, the Buccaneers survived their boneheaded decision with a victory over Oakland.
When you play the Chicago Bears, don't try to stiff-arm their defenders. Furthermore, when Charles Tillman is on your side of the field, keep both hands on the ball.
The Titans fumbled four times in their embarrassing home defeat at the hands of the Bears. Adding insult to injury, all four of the fumbles were forced by Charles Tillman.
One has to wonder if the Titans watched any film before playing the Chicago Bears. The vaunted defense is famous for punching the football out of the hands of ball-carriers.
Yet, whenever the Titans found themselves in open space, they were trying to extend the play by using stiff-arms and leaving the ball unprotected.
Fumble once, shame on me. Fumble four times...
The Browns drove inside the Ravens' 25-yard line on five occasions. All five ended in field goals.
Worse yet, the play-calling once the Browns were in field-goal range was very conservative. Powers, dives, draws and short passes in the flat, 10 yards short of the first down.
You can't win in the NFL without scoring touchdowns.
If you're going to call a game conservatively, be consistent. With 3:50 left in the game, deep in their own territory, down by seven but with all three timeouts remaining, the Browns elected to suddenly become aggressive and attempt a 4th-and-6.
They failed to convert.
The short field allowed Baltimore to ice the game with a chip-shot field goal.
The play-calling in the loss is going to be questioned all week in Cleveland.
Telling the press you've given up on the season with seven games remaining is not exactly what your players and fanbase want to hear.
After a tough loss at home to Carolina, coach Mike Shanahan said (via Rich Campbell of the Washington Times): "When you lose a game like that, now you're playing to see who is going to be on your team for years to come."
The Redskins have had a couple of rough weeks, but entering a bye week, you never know what can happen in the second half of your season. Coaches will sometimes be critical of players in the press to motivate them.
This might do the opposite.
One thing is for certain—Mike Shanahan is wishing he could have this statement back.
Or at least spoken off the record.