Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Same Game?

Both King Kaufman of Salon and Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN watched last night's bizarre football game, in which the heavily favored Bears, trailing 20-0 and then 23-10 at the start of the fourth quarter, came back to beat the Arizona Cardinals 24-23. And they have hilariously divergent opinions of what caused the collapse.

Here's Kaufman:
...the Cardinals handed the game to the Bears by turning ultraconservative when they got a lead.

And then coach Denny Green followed his gutless performance by screaming at the media ... and denigrating the Bears, yelling, "...we let them off the hook."

What a clown. And who's this "we," Run-up-the-middle-for-no-gain Man? Your team played well enough to win. You lost for them.

...with about five and a half minutes to go in the third, leading 20-3, to the first time they got the ball after falling behind 24-23 with 2:58 to go in the game, the Cardinals had first-and-10 11 times.

Eleven times, they handed the ball to Edgerrin James for a run between the tackles.

When the Cardinals had (the ball), they looked scared to death, like a team trying not to lose, hoping the clock would move faster than the Bears' ability to score three touchdowns.

It was pathetic. And it was the coach's fault.
Ready for Easterbrook? This is almost too good (italics near the end are mine):
Consider the situation at the start of the fourth quarter. At this point, the clock -- not the Bears -- is the opponent; just keep those numerals on the scoreboard declining and victory is likely. Yet after the first play of the fourth quarter, Arizona called timeout. On the possession, (quarterback) Matt Leinart threw incomplete twice, stopping the clock twice more. On its next possession, still leading 23-10 and now with 10:53 remaining, Arizona went run, incompletion, incompletion, stopping the clock two more times before punting. (My) Immutable Law of Doing the Obvious holds: Sometimes all a team needs to do is run the ball up the middle for no gain, and everything will be fine. Had Arizona not called a timeout in a clock-killer situation, and had the team simply run up the middle for no gain on these four plays Leinart threw incomplete, probably there never would have been a winning 83-yard Chicago punt return with 2:58 to play. The clock would have expired and the contest would have ended with Arizona leading.
(For what it's worth, I'm with Kaufman on this one.)


Blogger Kiyotoe said...

Either way....my boys came out on top. And the near loss will make us better in the long run and hopefully teach us not to read our own press clippings.

And the Cardinals are not nearly as bad as their record indicates.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Jamal Alsaffar said...

There are myriad ways a professional football team loses a 20-0 lead late in a game. And they usually involve both the players and coach. I watched the collapse (a jaw dropping one at that) and certainly running the ball to kill the clock was getting all too predictable--especially when the Bears scored to make it 23-10. A ton of time was still left and first downs were more important. Urlacher was zoning in on the run, as were the other backers, and a bit of play action for short safe gains would probably have worked.

I have to say, though, that fumbling the ball for a TD, giving up a punt return TD right after, and then missing a relatively short FG at the death had more to do with the players than the coach--don't you think?

2:11 PM  
Anonymous lfw said...

um. what?

3:03 PM  

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