On Nov. 19, 1978, with the New York Giants leading in the closing seconds, immortal quarterback Joe Pisarcik chose to hand the ball off to Larry Csonka rather than drop to one knee and run out the clock.
But Pisarcik fumbled and Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Herman Edwards scooped up the ball and ran it into the end zone for the winning TD.
Nineteen years later, in Saturday’s OT loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots QB Drew Bledsoe pulled a Pisarcik.
With 2:10 left and the Pats up by eight points, they had a third-and-7 at midfield. The Pats could have run the ball, and even if they hadn’t gotten a first down, they could have punted and pinned the Steelers deep in their end. And if they’d gotten the first down, the game was over because the Steelers were out of timeouts.
Instead, the Pats opted to pass. The Steelers blitzed. Bledsoe read that Dave Meggett should be open. But linebacker Kevin Henry read Bledsoe’s mind, made the interception, and the Steelers went on to record the unlikely victory.
As a result, the Patriots enter the season’s final week in jeopardy of missing the playoffs.
Nonetheless, Bledsoe defended the decision.
“Throwing the ball,” Bledsoe said, “was the right choice. I just didn’t throw it to our guy or to the sideline.”
Wonder what play Pisarcik would have called.
America’s garbage team
Dallas Cowboys fans wishing to feel optimistic about America’s Fallen Team could point to their near comeback from a three-touchdown deficit before losing to the Cincinnati Bengals.
The reality, however, is much different. The Cowboys allowed Bengals running back Corey Dillon 126 yards, allowed 31 consecutive points and awoke only when it already was too late. For the first time since 1990, the Cowboys have failed to qualify for the playoffs.
Any talk of a moral victory or congratulations for a display of pride against the Bengals left Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman cold.
“I guess you could say it’s good that being 21 points down, we didn’t quit, but when you have to give applause for guys playing hard and not quitting, what kind of message does that send? … To be applauded for doing your job, doing what you are paid to do, is wrong.”
NFL officials hit a new low at the Oilers-Ravens game in Baltimore. When the Oilers called a timeout in the third quarter, referee Bob McElwee announced, “Timeout, Houston.”
Fifteen games into the season, most people know the Oilers now call Tennessee home.
But that wasn’t the worst of it.
But with 22 seconds remaining in the game, and the Oilers trying to overcome a 21-19 deficit, the officials had to stop the game for 5 minutes to figure out a minor detail: What down was it? They finally figured out it was third down, not fourth down, the game resumed, and the Oilers lost.
The NFL should be glad such an embarrassing event didn’t occur in an important game.Though the officials’ forgetfulness regarding the down didn’t play a part in the outcome of the meaningless Raves-Oilers game, a valid question to ask is what such miscues say about the oft-criticized state of officiating in the NFL.
Considering the billions of dollars of revenue the league rakes in, you’d think it could do better.
Time to celebrate
The Detroit Lions’ Herman Moore and the New York Jets’ Raymond Austin both had reason to celebrate Sunday. Moore caught the game-winning TD pass from Scott Mitchell in the closing seconds as the Lions beat the Minnesoata Vikings. And Austin blocked a punt in the Jets’ 31-0 rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Moore’s touchdown eased his pain more than the electrical stimulation and painkillers he received before the game for his left foot, which has torn ligaments. Moore, who spent the week on crutches, also has two dislocated fingers.
One thing we know for sure: Next week, Austin may celebrate, Moore may celebrate, but they won’t both celebrate, because the Jets and Lions play each other at the Pontiac Silverdome. The Jets have to win to reach the playoffs. The Lions need either a victory, or a loss by the Redskins.
To QB or not QB
Kansas City coach Marty Schottenheimer has a pleasant problem. Or is it?
With the Chiefs one win from securing home field throughout the AFC playoffs, will Rich Gannon or Elvis Grbac be their quarterback.
The Chiefs were 7-2 with Grback when he was sidelined with a broken collarbone. In his sted, Gannon has gone 5-1. Grbac should be back by playoff time. But will he be No. 1 or No. 2?