Michael Hickey/Getty Images
Jeff Saturday, interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, may struggle with clock management.
The Colts trailed 24-17 after all three timeouts. However, they got the ball back with 3 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of Monday’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They had to take over at their line of 7 yards, but they made it to the Pittsburgh 37 for 4th and 3 with only two minutes left.
Indianapolis converted but the problem was Saturday’s inability to keep the clock running. Alex Highsmith stripped Matt Ryan of his jersey on the next play, and then he scrambled 14 yards for second down. After an unsuccessful running play on third-and-3, the seconds continued to drain until Saturday when Ryan was called for his first timeout. The Colts were left with just 30 seconds remaining.
Poor clock management was made less important when Ryan’s incomplete fourth-down pass to Parris Campbell became irrelevant. It caught the attention of NFL Twitter and was not well received.
Kevin Bowen @KBowen1070
It is difficult to see the clock. https://t.co/3meL1BI4eR
Jeff Saturday taking three timeouts, and letting one minute go by the clock pic.twitter.com/R9sJqdX0E1
Rich Eisen @richeisen
Saturday let the clock roll like he didn’t have a timeout left.
It is not possible.
Will Brinson @WillBrinson
You won’t have enough time Saturday to get the ball back. CALL YOUR TIMEOUTS, MY GOODNESS MAN
Luke Easterling @LukeEasterling
Jeff Saturday is here with the Todd Bowles clock-management strategy
Ethan Cadeaux @Ethan_Cadeaux
Jeff Saturday’s clock management is exactly what I’d expect for a head coach with no prior experience in his third game at the helm
Freezing cold Takes @OldTakesExposed
Saturday defended his use of timeouts, or the lack thereof.
“I thought that we had plenty of time. He said he wasn’t worried. According to reporters Ryan’s scramble took about 30 seconds. “We had plenty timeouts. “This wasn’t a press for more time.”
CBS Sports @CBSSports
Jeff Saturday on why he didn’t use timeouts for the Colts final drive
“I didn’t believe that time was important.”
Even so, it’s not ideal to end a one-score match with two timeouts. Even if they had converted on fourth down the Colts wouldn’t had much time.
It’s the sort of moment that critics of Saturday’s hiring after Frank Reich was fired—given that Saturday had no head coaching experience in the NFL or college—will point to as justification for their skepticism.
Although the Colts were not in dire need of a game-tying effort, they could have been if they had been more dreadful in their first half, which ended with the Steelers winning 16-3. Ryan performed better in the second quarter, leading two scoring drives. However, Ryan still finished 22-of-24 for 199 yard and a touchdown with an intercept and a touchdown.
The Colts are now 4-7-1 and can’t afford to lose a game like this. They might need to win to have any chance of making the playoffs.
In the NFL, it is important to pay attention to all details, especially when dealing with end-of-game situations. Although a crucial fourth down failed to be converted on Saturday, the clock management that led up to it raised eyebrows.
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