The Most Boneheaded Plays, Calls and Quotes of NFL Week 15
NFL Week 15 was apparently the week of the blowout.
Usually during blowouts, there are a couple plays that swing the game from competitive to out of hand and we saw a few of those on Sunday.
Some were from teams playing incredibly well and others were from the opponents playing the opposite.
Let's look at a couple questionable plays that helped make this week what it was.
Giant Struggles in Decision Making
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Not much went right for the New York Giants in a 34-0 blowout in Atlanta against the Falcons. The struggles started early as Eli Manning was intercepted on his first throw of the game.
On the next drive, already down 7-0, the Giants brought the ball all the way to the Atlanta 12-yard line. After a failed pass on 3rd-and-3, New York elected for a field goal attempt.
The Giants should know by now they have settled for far too many field goals after long drives all season. With only three yards to go, the Giants could have kept driving for a touchdown and at worse would have left Atlanta to drive 88 yards on the next drive.
The Giants, instead, elected to kick the field goal, which was missed by Lawrence Tynes. Of course a 30-yard kick from Tynes would usually be automatic, and the fact the kick was missed is not the problem.
Tom Coughlin and the Giants should know throughout the season a game is not won by settling for field goals. They had a chance to even the score after a bad start to the game and decided to pass—not literally.
Giant Struggles in Decision Making Pt. 2
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Already down 17-0 in the second quarter, the Giants were forced into go-for-it mode.
On 3rd-and-2 on the Atlanta 33, New York set up fourth down by running a halfback draw play from shotgun—a play worthy of removal from the Giants playbook—to Kregg Lumpkin for a gain of one yard.
On fourth down, the Giants made the right call to go for it. The play call, however, was not ideal. The Giants decided to run 5'9", 208-lb speed back David Wilson behind left tackle to attempt to pick up the yard.
You may be surprised to find he was stuffed.
Wilson was put in over the 228-pound Lumpkin, who picked up a yard on the previous play.
The decision was correct but the play call was another miss in what was a long day for the Giants.
Weeden's Conservative Fourth Down
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With 5:48 remaining in the third quarter, the Cleveland Browns found themselves trailing the Washington Redskins 24-14.
The Browns were in Washington territory on the 41-yard line and faced 4th-and-3.
Instead of trying a long field goal, the Browns made the right call to go for the first down.
Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden took the snap in shotgun and looked downfield. With nothing immediately open, Weeden felt pressure from the pass rush and scrambled to his left.
Weeden scrambled shy of the sideline, where he found himself caught between Washington defenders Ryan Kerrigan and Barry Coefield five yards shy of the line of scrimmage.
Weeden then performed some combination of pump-faking, tucking the ball in and throwing the ball away—after watching multiple times, it's still hard to figure out exactly what he does—to turn the ball over on downs.
This is the same Brandon Weeden who loves forcing the ball into double coverage and once told the Plain Dealer his interceptions were from forcing the ball were due to his ego.
Of all the times for Weeden to use his ego and try to fit a ball into tight coverage, this was the play to do it. The worst option on this play was scrambling for no yards.
An interception here probably could have saved the Browns yards by having the Redskins start the drive further in their own territory.
This was Weeden's chance to finally force whatever throw he wanted without major consequences and he passed—once again, not literally.
Lesson Learned for Ron Rivera
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This spot is actually going to praise Ron Rivera for making a call to go for it on fourth down—finally.
Rivera has played conservatively all season, and his reluctance for fourth down conversions has cost the Carolina Panthers some games, like the Week 4 game in Atlanta.
Carolina opened the game against the San Diego Chargers by driving the ball from their own 20-yard-line all the way to San Diego's 2-yard-line.
After an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-1, Rivera left the offense on the field to pick up the first or score—a first down would have been picked up on the 1-yard-line without scoring.
After a season of these decisions going against him, Rivera made the right call knowing at worst San Diego would be left to drive 98 yards.
Fortunately for the Panthers, 245-pound quarterback Cam Newton was able to sneak for the yard and the fist down and 245-pound running back Mike Tolbert was able to take the ball the extra yard for the touchdown on the next play.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, figuring this out was too little, too late for their season and possibly Ron Rivera's job.
The Best Quotes of the Week
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"We looked for it every time we were going to punt, and it was just there. I should have stopped it in the sense that it looked bad." - Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll on running a fake punt up by 30 points.
"I just don’t think we called the right plays to get him the ball.” - Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roesthlisberger on why tight end Heath Miller was not targeted in the second half.
“That’s tough for me to answer right now. The second half we didn’t do much of it, and that’s disappointing.” - Roethlisberger on the lack of no-hudle offense in the second half.
"And they’re, I think, more of a family spat in a frustrating time than, you know, anything that I’m deeply concerned about" - Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano on the sideline shoving between linebacker Adam Hayward and defensive front-7 coach Bryan Cox.
What is the girl in the Wizard of Oz and Toto? Dorothy? I wish I had some red shoes and I can wish myself right to next Sunday because it can't get here quick enough." - New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck after getting shutout by the Atlanta Falcons.