Twitter Blasts Colts' Jeff Saturday for 'Awful' Clock Management in Loss to Steelers

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVNovember 29, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - NOVEMBER 28: Head coach Jeff Saturday of the Indianapolis Colts looks on against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter in the game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 28, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Clock management may not be a strength for Indianapolis Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday.

Trailing 24-17 with all three timeouts, the Colts got the ball back with 3:52 remaining in the fourth quarter in Monday night's matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers. They faced a tough task, taking over at their 7-yard line, but drove to the Pittsburgh 37 to face 4th-and-3 with two minutes to play.

Indianapolis converted, but the issue was that Saturday and the Colts failed to manage the clock. Matt Ryan was strip-sacked by Alex Highsmith on the next play and then scrambled for 14 yards on second down. The seconds continued to drain away until Saturday called his first timeout following an unsuccessful running play on 3rd-and-3. That left the Colts with only 30 seconds to spare.

The poor clock management became less relevant when Ryan's fourth-down pass for Parris Campbell fell incomplete. But it nonetheless caught the eye of NFL Twitter, and the responses were not sympathetic:

Kevin Bowen @KBowen1070

Awful clock management to be clear. <a href="https://t.co/3meL1BI4eR">https://t.co/3meL1BI4eR</a>

br_betting @br_betting

Jeff Saturday having three timeouts and letting a minute bleed off the clock <a href="https://t.co/R9sJqdX0E1">pic.twitter.com/R9sJqdX0E1</a>

Rich Eisen @richeisen

Saturday let the clock roll like he didn’t have a timeout left. <br><br>Honestly do NOT get it.

Bryan Fischer @BryanDFischer

Jeff Saturday is just going to keep those timeouts for next Sunday.

Dejan Kovacevic @Dejan_Kovacevic

Someone just told Jeff Saturday about timeouts.

Will Brinson @WillBrinson

You're not going to have enough time to get the ball back Saturday, CALL YOUR TIMEOUTS MY GOODNESS MAN

Clarence Hill Jr @clarencehilljr

This clock management. Sheesh

Luke Easterling @LukeEasterling

Jeff Saturday going with the Todd Bowles clock management strategy here

Ethan Cadeaux @Ethan_Cadeaux

Jeff Saturday’s clock management is exactly what I’d expect for a head coach with no prior experience in his third game at the helm

Freezing Cold Takes @OldTakesExposed

<a href="https://t.co/0ofqS3ibmC">pic.twitter.com/0ofqS3ibmC</a>

Saturday defended his timeout usage, or lack thereof.

"I thought we had plenty of time. I wasn't too concerned," he told reporters about allowing 30 seconds to tick away after Ryan's scramble. "We had plenty of timeouts. This wasn't a press for time."

CBS Sports @CBSSports

Jeff Saturday on not using timeouts on the Colts' final drive:<br><br>"I didn't really think that time was of the essence."<br><br>🎥: <a href="https://twitter.com/CBSSportsHQ?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CBSSportsHQ</a><a href="https://t.co/ZffCokEb6D">pic.twitter.com/ZffCokEb6D</a>

Still, ending a one-score game with two timeouts isn't ideal. The Colts, had they converted on fourth down, wouldn't have had much time to work with.

It's the sort of moment that critics of Saturday's hiring after Frank Reich was fired—given that Saturday had no head coaching experience in the NFL or college—will point to as justification for their skepticism.

Granted, the Colts might not have been in need of a game-tying drive if they had been less dreadful in the first half, which ended with the Steelers up 16-3. And while Ryan was far better in the second half, leading the team on two scoring drives, he still finished 22-of-34 for 199 yards and a touchdown with an interception, a lost fumble inside the Pittsburgh 5-yard line and three sacks.

The Colts, now 4-7-1, couldn't afford to let a game like this slip away. They may need to win out to even have a chance at the postseason.

The finer details, especially in endgame scenarios, are incredibly important in the NFL. A failure to convert a key fourth down ended the game, but Saturday's clock management leading up to that play justifiably raised eyebrows.