Hey coaches, take your chances in OT next time
At the beginning of this month, I commented in this space about coaches going for two-point conversions to win games when they could settle for a single extra point and keep games going.
There was an example on Sunday morning in London that’s too irresistible to talk about.
But I promise after this to let this topic die a natural death, at least for the rest of this season.
Trailing 20-13 late in their game against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Tennessee Titans scored the potentially game-tying touchdown with 35 seconds left in regulation.
Instead of settling for the tie and likely overtime period, Titans coach Mike Vrabel went for two. Of course, it didn’t work as LA prevailed 20-19; otherwise this wouldn’t be today’s topic.
There were a couple things that really knawed at me about this.
Tennessee had made a huge comeback in the second half after trailing 17-6 early in the third quarter, so momentum was on their side if they went to the extra period.
But a day later, something else occurred to me. If the Titans had made the two-point conversion and taken a one-point lead, the Chargers would’ve gotten the ball back with about 30 seconds left.
With nothing to lose, they would’ve been hell-bent to at least get into field-goal range, which we know from watching too many NFL games would be likely as the prevent defense gives up yards in huge chunks.
So LA would’ve tried a game-winning field goal to send Tennessee down to defeat. LA’s Phillip Rivers is a capable enough quarterback to pull off the feat.
If instead the score was 20-20 with dwindling time left, the Chargers would’ve had to think twice about getting overly aggressive moving the ball, as they wouldn’t want Rivers to throw an interception that could set up Tennessee to win before regulation time ran out.
So coaches, give us that “free” time in OT and take your chances there instead.
Now onto this week’s picks:
Today, 8:20 p.m.
Miami at Houston —
Playing at home, I’m crossing my fingers that Houston QB Deshaun Watson won’t make too many silly mistakes. Texans, 27-23.
Sunday, 9:30 a.m.
Philadelphia vs. Jacksonville —
Before the season started, this sure sounded like a great game for the London audience, but the Jaguars can’t figure out who they want at QB while Philly is still trying to get over its Super Bowl hangover. Eagles, 23-17.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
Baltimore at Carolina —
Hmmm … I keep not following “reverse momentum” and getting killed for it. OK, the Panthers won last week and Baltimore lost by a single point due to a missed extra point. Ravens, 30-24.
New York Jets at Chicago —
The beat-up Bears lost by seven to New England on Sunday. The Jets are a lot more than seven points worse. Bears, 20-10.
Tampa Bay at Cincinnati —
Again, reverse momentum, especially with Cincy being embarrassed on national TV by KC on Sunday. Bengals, 37-30.
Seattle at Detroit —
My Google research shows Seattle OK but not great coming off the bye. And their team is certainly not great this year. Lions, 33-27.
Denver at Kansas City —
Like Sunday night, no contest. Chiefs, 41-20.
Washington at New York Giants —
Maybe the Giants will play better now that all their talented players have been traded. Playing better doesn’t equate to performing better. Redskins, 29-20.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh —
A divisional rivalry should get Pittsburgh’s attention. Steelers, 34-24.
Sunday, 4 p.m.
Indianapolis at Oakland —
Geez, where do you stand in line to get QB-less Buffalo and dysfunctional Oakland on your schedule in back-to-back weeks? Colts, 24-19.
San Francisco at Arizona —
I hear dissension is rampant with the Cardinals. 49ers, 23-12.
Green Bay at Los Angeles Rams —
Much like I said last week, I don’t see this L.A. team going 16-0. But I like their chances to get to 8-0. Rams, 21-13.
Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
New Orleans at Minnesota —
Reverse momentum states the Vikings would be hungrier if they had lost last week. Instead, they beat the Jets by 20. Saints, 29-24.
Monday, 8:15 p.m.
New England at Buffalo —
Egad! No World Series game on Monday, nor a Pistons or Red Wings game. This is going to look like one of those MMA fights where the guy gets pinned in 11 seconds. Patriots, 30-3.
Last week —
11-3, 79 percent. Season —
62-43-2, 59 percent.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.