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Colts' Jeff Saturday Regrets Clock Management vs. Steelers: 'I Wish' I Called Timeout

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVNovember 29, 2022

Indianapolis Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday greets Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin following an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Jeff Saturday's clock management on the final drive of the Indianapolis Colts' 24-17 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night—namely the decision not to call a timeout after a Matt Ryan scramble that allowed 30 seconds to drain off the clock before a key third-down attempt—was a major point of controversy after the game.

On Tuesday, Saturday acknowledged he should have handled the situation differently.

"I wish I had that third down back," he told reporters. "I wish I had called a timeout."

The Colts had all three of their timeouts remaining, but instead of using one, they ran up to the line and called a handoff to Jonathan Taylor, who was stopped for no gain. The Colts then called a timeout with just 30 seconds remaining before a 4th-and-3 attempt from the Steelers' 26-yard-line.

A Ryan incompletion to Parris Campbell on fourth down somewhat rendered Saturday's poor clock management a moot point, ending the game. But the Colts had started the drive at their own 7-yard line with 3:52 on the clock and all three timeouts, and they allowed that time to drain away.

Even if they had converted the fourth-down play, they would have been looking at about 20-25 seconds to get into the end zone for a game-tying touchdown, albeit with two timeouts.

The logic, ostensibly, was to drive down the field and score without giving the Steelers ample time to kick a game-winning field goal. In the immediate aftermath of the game, Saturday seemed fine with how the clock was managed.

"I thought we had plenty of time, I wasn't really concerned," he told reporters in his postgame press conference on Monday. "We still had timeouts. I wasn't too concerned. When [Ryan] was going down, I couldn't tell where they were gonna start him from going down, right? If he was gonna get the first down. And then we got there, I expected us to get on the ball and have another play, a little bit quicker than that. But again, this wasn't a press for time. We just didn't make enough plays."

By Tuesday, however, he had changed his mind.

Zak Keefer @zkeefer

Saturday intends on telling the players -- "this was on me," essentially -- tomorrow when they're back in the building. "I should have done something different," he says of the late-game decision not to call a timeout. <a href="https://t.co/Lvl9NvNdXt">https://t.co/Lvl9NvNdXt</a>

"Looking at the film, you could tell we were in disarray," he said of not calling the timeout before the third-down play.