In Saturday’s first game of the NFL Playoffs, the Denver Broncos took the ball with just under 30 seconds left and two timeouts. It was nearly the same situation the Atlanta Falcons found themselves in nearly 24 hours later.
The Broncos were involved in a tie game, while Atlanta was down one, so for the Falcons, there was no choice. They had to make a play for the field goal and the win. Two completions and a 48 yard field goal by Matt Bryant later, the Atlanta Falcons had won their first playoff game under the Mike Smith/Matt Ryan regime.
As exciting as this is for the people of Atlanta, it is a harsh reminder to the Denver Broncos of their failure the day before.
After a complete breakdown in the Broncos’ secondary, the Baltimore Ravens tied the game with just 31 seconds left. After the ensuing kickoff, John Fox and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy felt it was best to just take a knee and let the game go into overtime. The Broncos would lose the game in the end, bringing an impressive season to an unexpected and jarring halt.
The decision to take a knee into overtime was met with incredulous remarks across all of social media. There was an outcry against Fox for not trusting one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time to take a shot at field goal range. Following Atlanta’s success in the similar circumstances, those comments and remarks all seem justified.
There was a time when it was common practice to just take the knee and head into OT, but then the world watched Tom Brady lead his underdog New England Patriots to a last second victory by taking the chance to get into field goal range. Now it is common practice to take your shot at winning the game.
The Denver Broncos have two extremely talented wide receivers on the outside, Peyton Manning tossing them the ball, and a strong legged kicker in the thin air of the Mile High City. It should have been a no-brainer.
Instead, Fox played a tentative game, and they elected not to give their biggest weapon a chance to win the game in regulation. It brings to mind the poker phrase “scared money don’t win,” and on Saturday, Fox and McCoy proved the adage to be true.
Atlanta had no choice but to go for the field goal. They were down one and needed to make it happen to move on. The point is, when you have time on the clock, a couple of timeouts and an all-pro quarterback, you go for the win.
For Atlanta it means the NFC Championship Game, for the Broncos a painful offseason and questions of what could have been.
Jeff Everette is a Featured Columnist for RantSports.com, covering the NFL and NBA. Follow Jeff on twitter @jeverettesports, like his page on FaceBook, or add his Google + to your circles for all of his latest articles, thoughts, and rants.