Sure, Peyton Manning threw the final interception that led to the Baltimore Ravens’ game winning field goal. Yes, Manning was the cause of three turnovers (two interceptions and one fumble). And yes, safety Rahim Moore played the wrong angle to the ball on the 70 yard game-tying touchdown reception by Jacoby Jones. But in no way, no how, should either of these players take credit for the loss.
Bad coaching decisions by John Fox are the main cause of this heart breaking loss for the Broncos.
Just put yourself in Fox’s shoes. You have perhaps one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, in Peyton Manning, and you choose to run the ball on five straight plays with your third and fourth string running backs (Ronnie Hillman and Jacob Hester); and then punt the ball to the Ravens with one minute and 19 seconds left.
This overly conservative decision by Coach Fox; helped lead to a Ravens’ 38 second, 77 yard scoring drive to tie the game. It may sound easier said than done, but all Coach Fox had to do is put the ball in the future hall of famers hands (Manning) and let him try to throw for seven yards and a first down. If Manning and the Broncos’ offense converted the third down conversion, the Broncos would have only had to take a few simple kneel downs and they would have been on their way to the AFC championship game.
Instead, Coach Fox decided to put the ball/game in the Ravens and QB Joe Flacco’s hands.
People can sit there and say that if the Broncos’ defense stops the Ravens, then I would be praising Fox for his brilliant coaching; but that’s where they’re wrong.
As a coach, you put the ball/game in the hands of your best and most proven players. Not a young defense who had been struggling to stop the deep pass throughout the whole game.
The Ravens already showed the Broncos and Coach Fox that they could score quickly, when Flacco led the offense to a 40 second, 58 yard scoring drive at the end of the first half. But apparently this wasn’t enough to persuade Coach Fox to branch out of his conservative ways and try to put the game away.
The game-tying touchdown didn’t only leave a dagger in the heart of Broncos’ fans everywhere, but also left 31 seconds on the clock.
31 seconds and two Denver timeouts remained. One would think that the Broncos would have plenty of time to move up the field and give kicker Matt Prater a last second chance to kick a game-winning field goal. But no, Coach Fox decided to send the Broncos’ Pro Bowl QB out to take a knee and send the game into overtime.
After 15 scoreless minutes of overtime, the game ended up reaching a second overtime, where Ravens’ kicker Justin Tucker knocked in the game-winning field goal and sent the Ravens onto the next round of playoffs.
In the end, Denver’s head coach John Fox had it relatively easy this season compared to many other coaches in the league. The Broncos were rarely in a tight game and never made Coach Fox have to make a game deciding call. But for the first time this season, the game was in Fox’s hands, and he made the wrong decision and cost Denver the game.
You can take a risk, win and be a hero; or you can play it safe, lose and look like a fool. Last night, Coach Fox looked like a fool.
Not trying to take anything away from Baltimore, as they played one heck of a game and deserved to be in the mix right to the end; but the Broncos team and their fans deserved a better outcome than what their “head coach” led them to.
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