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Tuesday, December 30: An Interesting Point

Posted by Matt Terl on December 30, 2008 – 9:59 am

Sunday’s game was a frustrating one. At points, the Redskins looked like the team from the first half of the season. Jason Campbell was making better decisions and excellent throws (even if his receivers weren’t actually catching those throws). The defense came up with a turnover, and even Shaun Suisham seemed to have reverted to early-season form.

And then there was the other half of the game — the miscues, the defensive lapses, and the final breakdown that led to the loss. I’m not the first to observe that this game, in fact, was the season in microcosm. But Rich Tandler makes an observation that I had missed, one that may well have cost the Skins the chance to at least take the game to overtime.

I’ll let Rich explain:

Go back to the end of the Redskins’ tying drive. At the 2:00 warning, the Redskins have a second and goal at the nine. Clinton Portis runs for two yards to the seven and the clock keeps ticking. On third and goal at the seven, the ball is snapped with 1:28 left and Campbell completes a pass to Chris Cooley for five yards down to the two. It’s fourth and goal at the two and the clock is running. With 1:15 left, Zorn calls timeout.

That was his big mistake.

It’s a good point. At the very least, run the clock all the way down BEFORE taking the timeout (which would’ve put the timeout at :42 seconds left), which leaves the 49ers with much less time to make their frantic drive downfield for the win.

But here’s the strangest element of it all: the main knock on Coach Zorn’s 2:00 drill this year had been that he WASN’T preserving enough time, that he was cutting things TOO close, a charge that he steadfastly defended himself against. The explanation then was, “I have a philosophy of never allowing the defense to have to come back on the field with a lot of time,” so it’s particularly ironic that violating this philosophy in the last game may have contributed to the disappointing end result.

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