It was a choice that will go down as one of the gutsiest in Broncos history. All Fox could say afterwards was that the “shock value” of what happened just 10 seconds before was the primary reasoning for not going for a win.
With 41 seconds left in their AFC divisional round game against the Ravens, QB Joe Flacco hit Jacoby Jones for a 70 yard bomb that found S Rahim Moore out of position. That play scored the touchdown to tie the game at 35, and left the Broncos high-powered offense with 31 seconds left to take a stab at a couple of plays to get into field goal range.
John Fox decided to take a knee and head to overtime.
That’s right, Fox, who had the NFL‘s second-best offense in 2012 decided to kneel to the opposition in a playoff game. Everyone questioned his mettle and Fox decided to make this statement at his end of the season press conference:
“One of the things, when you’re a coach, you’re around the players for 20 games prior to that, including preseason. You get a little bit of a better feel of where they’re at—the look in the eye, their feeling. It was pretty devastating. It just didn’t seem the right time. It didn’t look like the right look, understandably, to go for the jugular right about then.”
I will say that when you have an offense that boasts a future Hall of Fame QB in Peyton Manning, two 1,000 yard receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker–with 23 touchdown catches between them–and a kicker in Matt Prater that was good for four field goal over 50 yards in the regular season, the decision should be a no-brainer.
Fox is a tremendous coach with a good history of getting the most out of his players and having the pulse of his team. He is a defensive-minded coach that has allowed his offenses to run with relative ease, trusting his offensive coordinators to be consistent with play-calling.
But at that moment, Fox needed to allow his machine to operate as it does best: no-huddle and quick. Fox failed in his decision, no matter how he wanted to justify it at the time. The question is, will fans forgive him for that decision, or will they harbor feelings of disdain until the Broncos win a championship?
We would all like to see Fox learn from that decision and have a more cutthroat mentality when faced with a do or die situation. We would all hate for executive vice president of football operations John Elway to continue to fill the roster with the best personnel available, only to have the Broncos fall short again.
Fox made his decision once, and should be forgiven for that. We should allow 2013 to take shape and hopefully be a productive season that ends with a playoff berth by winning the AFC West once again. After that, Fox needs to go for the jugular and realize that the playoffs are a completely different animal than what he sees in the regular season. Another decision such as the one he pulled against the Ravens, and forgiveness may never come again.
“Rant” your views in the comments section below as to how Fox could have handled his decision against the Ravens and if he should be given a pass.