Jon Gruden says he does not regret late-game call to not score TD in loss to Dolphins
With just under four minutes in the Raiders game against the Dolphins on Saturday night, the Raiders had just scored a touchdown on a huge 85-yard catch and were led by Nelson Agholor. It broke a 16-16 tie and rose 22-16. Then Daniel Carlson missed the extra point to score a six point game.
The touchdown appeared to be a breakthrough, while the missed extra point felt like something she might later bite (as it often does).
That "later" moment came less than a minute later. It came 48 seconds later, to be precise, when Myles Gaskin took a pass on the line, broke a couple of tackles, and was 59 yards away to pay. The extra point was good and the Dolphins took a point lead by about three minutes.
The Raiders had the ball 2:55 left and started driving. A questionable pass interference penalty against Byron Jones would nullify 49 yards and instantly get the Raiders to the Miami's 15-yard line. The best scenarios were to turn the clock down to a few seconds and kick the game winner or get into the end zone. In doing so, a two-point conversion was added to force the dolphins to drive the length of the field to tie it up.
Suddenly the Raiders were in position for a third and a worse option. They were third and goal left with 1:05. Not enough time to let the clock run to individual digits, and not enough time to allow the dolphins a shot for an answer.
Gruden sent the call and it was for Derek Carr to kneel, run the clock down to 19 seconds, and kick the field gate.
The problem with this is that the Raiders were only two points ahead. This means that the dolphins only need to get into the field target area to win them. That's exactly what the Dolphins did. At one game the Raiders had broken cover and Ryan Fitzpatrick threw deep for Mack Hollins, who made the catch for 34 yards. As he did so, Arden Key grabbed Fitzpatrick's face mask and sat 15 yards to bring the Dolphins to the 26-yard line. A game later, they won the game on their own field goal, ending the Raiders' playoff hopes.
Even so, Gruden said he made the right decision in this scenario.
"I don't regret taking a knee," Gruden said to open his post-game press conference. “We wanted to give the dolphins the ball as little time as possible without time outs. I thought we did that. [They had] 19 seconds left on their own 25-yard line. They were playing a desperate game and we had an additional penalty. Inexcusable."
The first question, of course, related to whether there was a thought or discussion of how to get the touchdown and take the risk.
"We honestly did that against Kansas City," replied Gruden. “We hit 1:15 and [Patrick] Mahomes went down and beat us. And we felt like the game was to eliminate the whole clock and time-outs and put them with their backs against the wall 19 seconds before the end. I do not regret it. I didn't want Fitzpatrick to have the ball. He did a good job in the second half. I didn't want him to be in a four-loss situation. He's a gunslinger. It was hot. That's all i can say I don't regret it a bit, I just regret the results. "
First, imagine putting Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins Offensive on the same plane as Patrick Mahomes and the World Champion Chiefs Offensive. That's either kudos to Fitzpatrick, or the lowest praise imaginable for defending the Raiders, to say the difference doesn't matter.
Second, the ending of the Chiefs game was very different. It was a four-point game, so a field goal wouldn't have been enough. You had to meet the TD. In doing so, they only took a lead of three points, not a potential lead of seven points. The Chiefs also took 1:19 for their ride, but they had 1:43 on the clock to do it, and had the Raiders scored the TD they would have left less than a minute on the clock. The Chiefs had scored their touchdown less than a minute after their ride, so they might even have to settle for a field goal.
I expressed the problem a little in terms of the potential for forcing a one-minute TD drive as opposed to a 19-second field goal that won the game.
"There are many ways to look at this," replied Gruden, cutting off the question. “But 19 seconds left, on your own 25-yard line, with no timeouts. I've been calling plays for a long time. The likelihood of achieving this is slim. And there is no guarantee that if they get the ball they won't go for two. I will not go into all of the scenarios. We played it exactly how we wanted to play it. It was a hell of a job getting the deal closed, but unfortunately they played desperately and the penalty was horrific. "
Derek Carr repeated his head coach's words almost exactly. no regrets and so on. He even went so far as to say the call was "absolutely perfect".
As small as the probability is, it happened. How much more or less distant the possibility exists that the dolphins will travel 75 meters for a touchdown in less than a minute, we will never know. Remember, however, that this is also a pursuit of a draw as opposed to a pursuit of a game-winning field goal.
Or rather a decision that loses the game and ends the season and plays for the Raiders. Your playoff hopes are fulfilled. A successful season is no longer possible. Another late-season breakdown is on the books. I think it fits in with a highly questionable decision that implies a lack of trust.
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