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I started this Tuesday the way I start all Tuesdays here in Istanbul, with a pot of coffee and an archived Monday Night Football game via NFL Game Pass. This week’s matchup featured the Minnesota Vikings at the New York Jets, a much-anticipated showdown between teams that both fell one game shy of the Super Bowl last season.
After a first half that featured a horrendous display of offense by the Vikings and three Jets field goals, I contemplated closing my Macbook and catching a few more hours of sleep before my afternoon run along the Bosphorus.
Instead, I poured myself a second cup of coffee, and stayed awake long enough to watch Brett Favre lead Minnesota on a futile second half comeback, while Brad Childress and Rex Ryan attempted to sabotage their teams with shamefully idiotic coaching blunders.
Trailing 15-7 early in the fourth quarter, Favre led the Vikings on an impressive drive capped off by a 34-yard touchdown pass from the veteran quarterback to Percy Harvin. Now trailing 15-13, the visitors had all of the momentum, until Brad Childress decided to squash it. Instead of kicking the extra point and extending the game for his team, Childress burned the first of his team’s three precious second half timeouts, then elected to attempt a two-point conversion with over 12 minutes remaining.
Favre’s two-point conversion try was intercepted by Antonio Cromartie in the endzone.
The Jets then countered with a long scoring drive of their own that ended with a 23-yard touchdown run by Shonn Greene. The ensuing extra-point try by Nick Folk put the home team up by two scores, leaving many, including myself, wondering why Childress had elected to go for two with nearly a quarter of football left to play.
But, Favre wasn’t finished. With 3:09 remaining, he rolled to his left and connected with Harvin again on an 11-yard touchdown strike. This time, however, Childress decided to play it safe and kick the extra point, making the score 22-20, Jets. Had Childress decided to kick the extra-point earlier, a two-point conversion here could have tied the game.
The Jets got the ball back with just a little over three minutes remaining, intent on completing a couple first downs, and not giving Favre a crack at a game-winning drive. Mark Sanchez hit Santonio Holmes on a slant route, giving New York a fresh set of downs, and forcing Minnesota to call its final timeout with 2:47 remaining. On the next play, Ladainian Tomlinson ran into the line for no gain, leaving a two-second difference between the play clock and game clock before the two minute warning. The Jets had to run just one more play before the automatic stoppage, but the ball was snapped with seven seconds left on the play clock, and Sanchez threw an incomplete pass, stopping the game clock at 2:04.
Rex Ryan’s decision to run a play with seven seconds remaining on the play clock would have been excusable had the Jets called a running play. Instead, they elected to throw the ball, and essentially gave a timeout to the Vikings.
ESPN play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico gave Ryan “A clock management F,” adding, “You don’t even need to know football to manage the clock.”
Childress threw a timeout away, and Ryan gave it right back, leaving the stage set for Favre, accused earlier in the week of sending inappropriate text messages to a former female Jets’ employee, to complete yet another signature comeback drive with 1:48 remaining.
Favre slung an incomplete pass intended for Randy Moss on first down, missed a wide open Percy Harvin in the flat on second down, then threw a pick six to Jets’ corner back Dwight Lowery on third down, putting an exclamation point on a forgettable week for the 41-year-old gun-slinger.
Funny thing is, Favre and the Vikings would have had another crack at a game-tying drive if Childress hadn’t gone for two earlier in the quarter. Sorry Brett, didn’t mean to kick you while you’re still down.