So I know we are still in the afterglow of the Bills’ victory on Sunday. C.J. Spiller continues to impress. The defense made amends for their horror–show performance in the Meadowlands a week earlier. And at least for one week, Ryan Fitzpatrick left the turnovers to the capable right arm of Jay Cutler. Just indulge me a moment to look back through the magic of the NFL Gamebook, and bask in the glorious ridiculousness that was Romeo Crennel’s 2nd half.
Let us pick up the action at the 4:05 mark of the 3rd quarter. The Kansas Cities find themselves in a 28-3 hole on the scoreboard. With just 19 minutes remaining in the game, down 25 points, and facing a 4th & 8 at their own 43 yard line, Crennel decides to punt away back to the Bills and play defense. Go through this scenario again with me:
Needing the ball AT LEAST 4 MORE TIMES with just a smidge over a quarter left to play, an NFL head coach decides to willingly give up possession of the football.
Granted, 4th & 8 is not an easy convert. Still…seriously? Just after getting 10 yards on the previous play, hoping to flip field position & maybe force a turnover is your best choice? Under threat of being a Gregg Easterbrook honk here, the Chiefs’ brain trust got what they had comin’ when Leodis McKelvin ran the punt back 88 yards to the house and for all intents & purposes ended the game, making it 35 – 3.
Little did we realize that Romeo was just getting started. On the very next K.C. possession, which runs into the opening minute of the 4th quarter, the Chiefs are able to get three 1st downs, before stalling at the Buffalo 34 yard line. 4th & 14 at the opponents’ 34. 14 minutes left. Down 32. Crennel punts. I have to believe it was at this point that chairs and barstools may have started flying through Missouri living rooms.
Now here’s where things get dumb. The Bills proceed to run another 5 minutes off the clock before punting themselves. So now with 8:39 left to go in the game and needing the ball AT LEAST 5 MORE TIMES TO WIN (or 4 TDs + 2pt conv. to tie), the Chiefs suddenly decide to go no-huddle and try. And wouldn’t you know it - Kansas City bookends a Buffalo 3-and-out with a pair of touchdowns to make the score a bit more respectable at 35-17, but alas there is just 1:10 left to play. So of course Kansas City kicks deep (having not attempted a single onside kick in the game). The Bills, having already pulled Fitzpatrick & Spiller from the game, are certainly going to just have professional clipboard handler person guy Tyler Thigpen take a couple of knees so we can all get on to the postgame show (with YOUR phone calls!). I mean after all, the Chiefs really aren’t going to stop the clock 3 times to force a punt and get the ball back, right? That would be stupid.
Oh, but did Romeo come through.
Down 18 points with a just over a minute to play, Romeo Crennel does indeed decide to use all 3 of his timeouts (‘cause, what good will they do him in the locker room, you know?) in order to get his starting offense back on the field once more in garbage time. And then he had Matt Cassel spike the ball to stop the clock for good measure!
Here’s my question: How the hell can you run the final 8 minutes of a football game like that, and then be able to justify punting earlier in the game, ESPECIALLY from the Bills’ 34 yard line? Do these coaches just so over-think the situation so often they cannot simply allow their gut to decide how to proceed? I mean, if Herm Edwards was correct and you are indeed playing to win the game, how does one not try to convert those particular 4th downs instead of kicking away? You can’t assume the rest of the game plays out the same way of course, but if Kansas City converts that 1st 4th down situation and goes on to make it 28-10, it’s still a ballgame with about a quarter to play. I mean, these are the Bills we’re talking about here.
There comes a time when every fan reaches his or her end point with the coach/manager of the local team. I distinctly remember mine with Gregg Williams: Halfback option in Miami. Dick Jauron? Rolling Losman out to the right against the Jets when all they had to do was kill the clock. Romeo Crennel’s body of work in Kansas City is small, but I wouldn’t blame some folks out there if they’ve made their minds up after Sunday.