At a time in the NFL playoffs where decisions are crucial and game plans must be executed perfectly, two NFL teams will now be watching the Conference Championship Games from home due to coaching blunders.
The Denver Broncos—aside from a terrible defensive performance—have head coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy to blame for Denver's early exit at the hands of an inferior Baltimore Ravens team.
Three times in the fourth quarter or later, Fox took the ball out of Manning's hands and instead chose to run the ball for no gain.
No decision was more questionable than handing the ball off to Ronnie Hillman on a 3rd-and-7 with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
With the Broncos leading 35-28 and the Ravens out of timeouts, all Denver needed was a first down to seal a trip to the AFC Championship Game.
But instead of letting Manning throw the ball and attempt to pick up the first down, Fox opted to lie down and let his defense—which had been torched the entire day—determine the outcome of this game.
And then after Baltimore tied the game on a ridiculous 70-yard bomb to Jacoby Jones, Fox again made a mistake, opting to kneel the clock out when there was still 31 seconds remaining and the Broncos still had two timeouts.
It was a combination of poor defense and pee wee coaching that led to Denver's demise.
Speaking of demise, did anyone see Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll try to ice Matt Bryant?
After Seattle completed an improbable comeback—one that saw it trail 20-0 at halftime only to take a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds left—the Seahawks defense let Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense make their way down the field and attempt a 47-yard field goal to send Atlanta to the NFC Championship Game.
On Bryant's first attempt, Carroll called timeout just as the Falcons snapped the football, negating the kick, which Bryant missed.
Bryant went on to drill his next attempt, thus sending Atlanta onto the next round while Seattle was sent packing.
Both the Broncos and Seahawks defenses—each ranked No. 2 and No. 4 in total defense during the regular season—failed their cities this weekend, but the decisions made down the stretch by their coaches are the reason they're no longer contending for a Super Bowl this season.
But at least John Fox and Pete Carroll don't have tattoos of their wives in their quarterbacks' jerseys, right?
Follow me on Twitter: Follow @Pete_Schauer
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!