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Vikings screwed up and lost Thursday Night game seeking more when they had enough

Posted by John Reed on

Here is Minnesota’s last series (end of game) against Arizona in Thursday Night Football:
1st and 10 at ARI 31

(0:23 - 4th) (Shotgun) T.Bridgewater pass incomplete short left to S.Diggs
2nd and 10 at ARI 31

(0:18 - 4th) (Shotgun) T.Bridgewater pass incomplete short right to J.Wright
3rd and 10 at ARI 31

(0:13 - 4th) (Shotgun) T.Bridgewater sacked at ARZ 38 for -7 yards (D.Freeney). FUMBLES (D.Freeney), RECOVERED by ARZ-C.Campbell at ARZ 36. C.Campbell to ARZ 36 for no gain (M.Harris)

At the time they were trailing 23-20 and had no timeouts left.

A field goal ties it. From the 31the distance of the kick would be 31 + 17 = 48 yards. Their kicker made one earlier in the quarter from 54.
Should they have tried for a TD and the win during the series? That was the only path to victory in regulation. Ending regulation in a tie has a win probability in OT of 50%. But their win probability on 1st down was something like 5%. 50% is better than 5%.

So how do you do that in this situation? On the play that got the fist down, the receiver had gone out of bounds stopping the clock. So Minnesota needed to snap the ball and run the ball toward the middle of the field. At the end of that play they needed to hurry up and get lined up. When the game clock hit :05, they call for the snap then spike it stopping the clock. Then they attempt the field goal. Time would expire while the ball was in the air.

Instead, they tried to stop the clock after each play of the series by going out of bounds or throwing incomplete. In the event, they threw two incomplete passes on the first two downs. They tried to do it again in third down with only :13 left and got sacked and fumbled to the other team. Just getting sacked would have lost the game. The fumble was meaningless.

After the game, the Minn. coach admitted he should have kicked the field goal, not tried to advance the ball on more than one down.

This falls into a broad category of clock-management mistakes I call trying to get more when you already have enough. I discuss it on page 13 of my Football Clock Management book and four more places after that.

Football Clock Management book

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