Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Night Quarterback - Week "Heartbreak"

Not a lot of great things about being a 3-8 team heading into today's matchup with the Saints. But here's one advantage:

3-8 teams don't have to respect conventional NFL thinking. They can color outside the lines.

3-8 teams can go for it on fourth and inches on the other team's 42-yard line in the second quarter.

3-8 teams can onside kick to start the second half.

3-8 teams can run a fake field goal where the punter throws a 30-yarder to the... oh, yeah. We did that one.

And most importantly, when you're 3-8 and leading the best team in the NFL by 10 and have first and goal at the seven with 2 1/2 minutes left, you go for the knockout. You throw the ball, run a naked boot (love that play name), four-wide quarterback draw, any of that stuff.

I mean, you're 3-8. What's the point in playing for a field goal?

For the third straight week, the Skins have tightened up in the red zone. Made the conventional choice. "Hey, you never miss a chance to put points on the board." And what has the conventional thinking produced.

Three of the most heartbreaking (and frustrating) losses I can remember as a loyal supporter of this team.

Exhibit A: In Dallas, right before halftime, conventional thinking says that we don't take a shot on 3rd down from the 21-yard line, and instead try the field goal. We miss and go on to lose the game.

Exhibit B: In Philadelphia, up five midway through the fourth quarter with first and goal, conventional thinking says play for the field goal to put the lead on eight. Eagles go down, score, convert the two, and make a field goal at the end to win it.

Exhibit C: jeez, enough already.

I'm sure Landry wishes he hadn't gone for the double move twice. I'm sure Kareem Moore would love to have had that interception back. And clearly Suisham must be the sickest man in DC tonight. But I don't hold any of them responsible tonight. The fact is, Washington played more than well enough to win the game.

If the coaches had just let them finish that game...

PS - Need your help, 'cause sometimes I get a little confused. Can you walk me through the Sellers fumble?

First, when the official blows the whistle, you're supposed to stop playing. If you don't, you get all that late hit and unnecessary roughness stuff, right?

But on the Sellers play, the ref who blew the play dead is basically saying "disregard the fact that I blew the play dead. You should keep playing, because I may go under the hood and decide that the play wasn't really over when I said it was." Is that how it works?

Because if that's the case, why would a player ever respect the referee's whistle? It may not actually be the end of the play, so I might as well keep playing, right?