What would yo have done? That's the question that Mark Viera of the New York Times posed about the last few possessions of the Super Bowl. To be more specific, they asked:
It is second-and-goal from the 6, and there will be 1 minute 4 seconds left to play in the Super Bowl when the ball is snapped. You are coaching the team that is on offense and is trailing, 17-15. Both teams have one timeout left. What do you instruct your players to do?
The only thing that coaches ranging from NFL coaching veteran Dan Reeves to D-III Middlebury head coach Bob Ritter could agree on, is it's a tough call. Take a look at their answers.
Former coach of the Giants, the Broncos and the Falcons
“No question, I would use the clock and make them use their timeout. It’s a heck of a gamble to give the ball back to Tom Brady with 57 seconds and a timeout. But that’s probably the reason I never won a Super Bowl as a head coach.”
Former coach at Boise State and Colorado
“What you’d not want to do is hand it to your tailback. You might just want to have your quarterback just center the ball and lay on it, to burn the clock a little bit, and then kick the field goal to win the game. If you’ve got like a minute on the clock, that’s a lot of time. I would not want to give it up to Tom Brady by any means. But in a 1,000-page book of coaching, that’s probably on Page 1,000. You have to go through 999 scenarios first. This isn’t Football 101. This is like doctorate-level stuff.”
Former coach at Westlake High School in Waldorf, MD.
“Do I have Lawrence Tynes or my high school kicker? If I have my high school kicker, I’m telling them to score a touchdown. But if it was Tynes, I would take try to leave as little time as possible and go for the kick, because it’s a high-percentage kick. That way it leaves as little time as possible for Tom Brady to throw a Hail Mary.”
Former coach at Oregon
“Don’t score. I would try to go to the 1-yard line and force them to use their last timeout. Third down, try to crack it in the end zone, and if not, you can use your final timeout. That’s what we would do. We would line up on third down, having taken as much time as possible off the clock, and then you either score on your quarterback sneak or a dive, and if you don’t get it, you kick the field goal to win the game.”
Former coach at Michigan
“If Tom Brady is sitting on that other sideline, I would much rather have a 4-point lead, but there’s no guarantee you’re going to score.”
Coach at Southern Methodist
“I think you always score. You’ve got to score. I think that’s the percentage play. But if they had not scored on that run, then you consider just centering it up on third down and kicking the field goal to win it.”
Coach at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn.
“In a big game last year against our archrival, our guy hit the left post and it bounced out, so I don’t trust the kickers so much anymore. I probably would go for it and hope our defense would stop them. It turns out the Giants were right.”
E. J. MILLS
Coach at Amherst (Mass.) College
“You’ve got to score. In a perfect world, you would maybe on second down get stopped on the 2, then run some clock and run it in on third down. But really, I think you’ve got to score the points there, even though you’re giving it over to Brady.”
Coach at Middlebury (VT.) College
“In our situation, at Division III, we’re getting in the end zone because a field goal for us isn’t as automatic. Then for the other guys to go 80 yards in 50 seconds is very difficult. So I think that’s got to be part of you calculation is who you’re giving the ball back to.”
Coach at Dodge City (Kan.) Community College
“We would have got the ball to the middle of the field, knelt down and let the clock run and kick it with a little time as possible. We practice that every Friday, as a matter of fact. You don’t want Brady with the ball in his hands late.”