There were only 11 games in the NFL Sunday, and most of them were what I like to call "blah." It wasn't the strongest weekend of football, but there was still enough stupidity to satisfy those who enjoy criticizing such things.
The stupidest penalty
By keeping the ball on the ground on a third-and-14 with just over one minute to play, the Dallas Cowboys knew they weren't likely going to convert to move the chains. The only goal, really, was to keep the clock running. The Detroit Lions were out of timeouts, so a run meant the clock would run under the 30-second mark. Combine that with a field goal attempt and the ensuing kickoff (or even a punt) and you'd be leaving Detroit with about 20 seconds to go the distance of the field.
In other words, the game was pretty much over so long as they kept the clock rolling.
In other words, no penalties.
And then Tyron Smith did this:
The obvious holding penalty was declined, but it stopped the clock. With an extra 40 or so seconds with which to operate on the ensuing drive, the Lions had just enough time to score the game-winning touchdown.
The stupidest batch of coaching decisions
As per usual, Philadelphia Eagles rookie head coach Chip Kelly is the winner here. The guy seems to make multiple inexplicable decisions every single week. We could probably roast him for a quartet of questionable decisions this week, but let's stick to the two that had the most impact in the fourth quarter.
1. Down 15-0 in the fourth quarter, Kelly opted to punt on a fourth-and-four from the New York Giants 47-yard line. Mathematically, that's a bad decision. Kelly defended it by declaring that he was confident in his defense.
2. Fine, but if he was so confident in his D, why did Kelly opt to attempt an onside kick down one score later in the fourth? They had a timeout and the two-minute warning and there were still over four minutes to play. His defense had been shutting the Giants down. They could have kicked it away and gotten the ball back at the three-minute mark with good field position. Hell, they could have even given up a first down and still had some time and decent position. But instead they attempted a low-percentage onside kick, allowing the Giants to bleed the clock before burying Philly inside its own 20-yard line. Game over, for all intents and purposes.
The stupidest shift in offensive strategy
Lots of #NFCEastStupidity this week, because Mike Shanahan and the Washington Redskins win this one.
In Denver, the 'Skins entered the fourth quarter with a 21-14 lead. Alfred Morris was having another nice game and had picked up 25 yards on six third-quarter carries. Robert Griffin III, on the other hand, was struggling a little bit. But Washington opened the final quarter with three consecutive passing plays, all of which resulted in incomplete throws from Griffin. Three-and-out, followed by a Broncos touchdown. In fact, 13 of their first 15 offensive plays at the start of that quarter were passing plays. On those plays, Griffin was 4 for 11 with three interceptions and two sacks.
In that quarter, the Broncos would score 31 unanswered points to run away with it.
Not sure what the Shanahans were thinking there.
The stupidest shift in offensive strategy, part 2
The Miami Dolphins led the New England Patriots 17-3 at halftime, thanks in part to 103 yards on 22 first-half carries. And yet they ran the ball only nine times in the second half, giving up six sacks while blowing that two-score lead. Stupidity from Mike Sherman.
The stupidest decision to call timeout
Down two scores on a second-and-short with less than two minutes to play, you're a lot better off taking a five-yard penalty than killing one of your timeouts. Hell, you're better off rushing the snap and throwing it away.
The stupidest defensive lapse
Yeah, you might want to have a defender on Bruce Miller's side of the field, Jacksonville…
That resulted in a 43-yard gain.
The stupidest relic
Let's go a little more broad. Why do we still have PATs? They just don't add anything to games, because they're pretty much automatic nowadays. From Peter King of Sports Illustrated:
And the biggest waste of time in sports is the point-after. Six were missed all season last year, and this year, only two of 524 have gone awry. It is positively insane that the NFL doesn’t either eliminate the PAT, move the snap way back from the 2-yard line, or force teams to go for two. Something. Anything. For years, it’s been a nothing play, and the Competition Committee refuses to do anything tangible about it.
The stupidest throw
Amazingly, this didn't cost Tom Brady…
The stupidest penalty call
In fact, Brady benefited from it. Somehow, an official on the sideline deemed that to be pass interference.
Phil Simms: Oh my gosh.
Jim Nantz: How is that interference?
Simms: That is an awful, awful call.
Let's call it a stupid call, on a stupid throw. Perfect.