That (good) kick didn’t count, and then his do-over kick bounced off an upright, securing the Broncos’ win.
Just a week later, Raiders’ coach Lane Kiffin pulled a page from Shanahan’s coaching log and called a timeout just before Browns’ kicker Phil Dawson put one through in the final seconds of the game. Like the previous week, the do-over kick was no good (blocked this time) and the Raiders won.
With the rule that coaches can call timeouts, last minute field goal wins will never be the same. Some say the rule should be changed to take away the coach’s privilege of calling a timeout just before the ball is kicked, while others call it a brilliant coaching move and are surprised the technique hasn’t been widely used before this season.
But the kick-timeout-do-over tactic hasn’t proved perfect.
Dallas kicker Nick Folk cowboyed up to overcome the interruption, and after making the first kick (negated by the timeout), split the uprights a second time to give his team the win over the Bills in front of a national audience on Monday night. The timeout also failed to foil the Titans’ kicker, Rob Bironas, and the Broncos’ Jason Elam, as they both punched their kicks through two times as well.
We haven’t seen it yet, but the timeout tactic is going to backfire on some gamblin’ coach who, instead of rattling the nerves of the kicker, instead gives him a second chance after missing the first kick. The timeout will allow the kicker to readjust, make a read on the first kick and then kick it again, this time to victory. I can’t wait to see the poor coach’s face when he realizes he single-handedly lost the game.
And then there’s the bad-snap factor. A bad snap combined with a timeout will also allow for readjustment by the long-snapper, who will more than likely not blow two snaps in a row. After all, they are professionals in the NFL.
For me, a coach’s timeout call is a complete gamble. He’s betting that the timeout will replace one good kick with a poor kick, and not the other way around. The coaches and the timeout call can be likened to that of a junkie gambler rolling clear red dice at some under-crowded craps table in Atlantic City – looking for the hard-eight he has been dreaming of all night.
A successful gambler is a rich gambler. A successful coach is a rich coach. A degenerate gambler probably has no job, and neither will a degenerate-gambling coach who puts everything on the line with a timeout call during the final seconds of the game.
So for all you NFL team owners, better know your head coaches’ gambling habits. Take him to AC and track his frantic habits near green-felt table. Does he roll again after a loss? Does he even roll the dice?
Shanahan has gambled and one…once. Will he roll the dice again? I think not. What Shanahan had going for him in the early weeks was shock factor. Janikowski couldn’t compose himself after the awkward timeout was called, asking himself, “Was that even legal? I already made it. I have to kick it again?”
Although I have not seen him at the craps table, Shanahan doesn’t strike me as the degenerate type. We Broncos fans can rest assured that our coach does not have a gambling problem.
The same cannot be said for me, although I wouldn’t classify myself as a degenerate…yet. For us gamblers watching from the sidelines, Shanahan’s timeout fad gives us all the more reason to cheer, cry and enjoy a new element to America’s most popular sport.