Sports Medley: 2017
Super Bowl: 6 Feb 17
by Tony Medley
In last year’s Super
Bowl, NFL MVP quarterback Cam Newton showed what he was made of when
with his team trailing in the waning moments, but with a chance to go
ahead, he ran away from his own fumble, afraid he would be injured if he
fell on it to save their chance of winning.
In this year’s Super
Bowl with Atlanta leading New England 28 to 20 Atlanta quarterback and
NFL MVP Matt Ryan had a second and 11 on New England’s 22 Yard line with
3:56 remaining in the game. All Atlanta had to do was to run two more
line plunges, taking the maximum amount of time possible, and kick a
short field goal. Had they done this and had New England not called the
timeouts, New England would have taken possession of the ball with a
little over two minutes left in the game and two scores behind. In this
situation, New England probably would’ve had less than a 1% chance of
winning the game.
Instead, Atlanta and
Ryan called a pass play and Ryan was sacked! It was bad enough to call a
pass play in that situation when another touchdown was relatively
meaningless and when they were well within easy field goal range. But
any quarterback with half a brain knows he cannot take a sack in that
situation. If his protection breaks down, throw it away and have third
down and 11 on the 21 yard line. What’s wrong with that?
Instead, Ryan takes a
sack and instead of third and 11 on the 22, he’s got third and 23 on the
35. This translates into a 53 yard field goal, not impossible, but not
nearly as easy as the 40 yard field goal they would have had with two
line plunges from 21. So they tried another pass and are called for
holding, making it third and 33 on the 45 yard line, outside of field
goal range. MVP Ryan then misses a simple out pattern which would have
given them the fourth down on the 31 which translates to a 49 yard field
The result of this
indefensible play call of a pass on second and 11 on the 21 was that New
England won the game and the Super Bowl. Newton was no MVP, and neither
But equally to blame
is Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan (soon to be the 49ers
head coach, and they deserve each other). I don’t know who called the
play, but generally a play like that is called by the offensive
may remember, was the offensive coordinator with the Washington Redskins
in 2012 when Robert Griffin III led the Redskins to the playoffs as
offensive rookie of the year. In the Wild Card game against the Seattle
Seahawks, he suffered a serious leg injury near the end of the game but
was put back in and aggravated the injury, as certainly should have been
expected. He has never been the same since, and instead of appreciating
his sacrifice, the Redskins dropped him like a lead balloon.
I’m sure I wasn’t
alone when I cringed as he limped back into the game. Whoever made the
decision, be it Kyle or his father, Mike, who was the head coach of the
Redskins, should carry the burden of that decision to put Griffin back
in that game on his conscience for the rest of his life.
made the play call of the pass on 2nd and 11 on New England’s
21 should carry that burden for a long time, even though Ryan, if he is
an MVP, should have known better than to take a sack.
What this game proved
is that anyone who thinks that people who manage, coach, and play
professional sports know enough about what they’re doing to make
competent decisions should rethink that idea.
Comparison of MVP
Along the same lines as my last paragraph, those who chose Ryan as 2016
season MVP over Tom Brady (50 sportswriters and sportscasters like Bob
Costas and Chris Berman) also proved that their decisions are
meaningless mush. An MVP would have been able to complete the simple out
to a wide open receiver on third and 33 with the game on the line to put
Atlanta back in field goal position that Ryan missed. Compare that with
the amazingly accurate pass after pass that Brady threw under tremendous
pressure in the last quarter in scoring 19 points to tie the game.
Between those two, who’s the MVP?