In the NFL quarterbacks have long been judged on how they handle the two minute drill. Maybe it is time to change that. Maybe it is time to judge them on how they handle the one minute drill.
With rules changes that allow offenses to move the ball almost every team in the league is capable of putting together a scoring drive with one minute to a minute and half to tie or win games. If a team leaves their opponent two minutes to score then they are all but asking to be beaten. This past weekend was case in point.
It started in Baltimore. There the Cleveland Browns trailed the Baltimore Ravens 23-16. Cleveland got the ball on their own 10 yard line with no timeouts and 1:05 to play. In one minute they were on the Baltimore 18 with two seconds to play. Rookie quarterback Brandon Weedon had driven the Browns 72 yards on passes of 13, 27 and 17 yards with a personal foul penalty added on.
Cleveland got two shots at a Hail Mary pass and Baltimore knocked them both down to end the game. The Browns didn’t tie, but had a chance.
On the first play Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan hit wide receiver Roddy White for 59 yards putting the ball on Carolina’s 40 yard line. Four plays later Matt Bryant was lining up to kick a 40 yard field goal. The kick was good and Atlanta won 30-28.
The winning drive covered 71 yards in 5 plays. Ryan was 3-4 for. The Falcons offense used all of 54 seconds.
Washington took over on their 20 with 1:42 to play, down 22-21 and with one time out. Quarterback Robert Griffin III drove them 56 yards to the Bucs 24 in 1:39. The Redskins did not use their timeout until there were three seconds to play. Then Billy Cundiff came on to win it with a 42 yard field goal.
In the Sunday night game the Philadelphia Eagles almost made the same mistake as Tampa Bay. They scored the go ahead field goal against the New York Giants with 1:49 to play. After the ensuing kick, the Giants took over on their own 35 with 1:43 to play.
New York proceeded to drive to the Philadelphia 26 with the help of two defensive pass interference calls. An offensive pass interference call on Ramses Barden moved the Giants back to the 36 yard line. From there Lawrence Tynes missed a 54 yard field goal as time expired. Like the Browns, New York fell short, but had a chance. This despite the fact that quarterback Eli Manning completed one out of nine passes on the drive for only nine yards.
This is today’s NFL. It is an era where no lead is safe and any team within striking distance only needs a minute to get a victory.