The Stupidest Play Call In Sports History

As an observer of the NFL for a very long time, I have never been a fan of short passes inside the defense’s┬áten yard line, or screen passes inside the offense’s ten yard line. This is because they are very high-risk. You want evidence, here it is:

(a) Dan Fouts throws a 102-yard pick-6 to Louis Breeden, propelling the Bengals past the Chargers in 1981;

(b) Already suffering a horrendous first half against the Raiders, Joe Theismann attempts a screen pass deep in his own territory on the last play of the half. Jack Squirek picks it off and scores an easy touchdown, expanding what would be a 38-9 rout;

(c) Kurt Warner, deep inside New England territory, attempts a short pass. End-result: a pick-6 that would prove to be the difference in the game, giving Tom Brady his first Super Bowl ring;

(d) Kurt Warner, with a chance to put the Steelers on the ropes, attempts a short pass. James Harrison intercepted it and took it to the house. This would also be the difference in the game, as the Steelers would get their 6th Super Bowl ring.

The only pass plays that work from that close: (1) a timing route to the corner of the end zone, or (b) a jump ball to the back of the end zone. Think Montana-to-Clark, or Bradshaw-to-Swann, or Bradshaw-to-Stallworth.

Still, when you have the ball at the 1-yard line, and you have the best smashmouth running back in the NFL, and your QB is the best running QB in the league with the possible exception of Cam Newton, and you have three plays and two timeouts, YOU PUNCH IT IN!!!

There are smart risks and there are dumb risks. Going for the TD at halftime was a smart risk. Why? A field goal would have been a win for the New England defense. Going for the TD shows that you want to WIN. As they say in the Spec-Ops world: who dares wins.

But going for a short pass at the 1-yard line, that was a dumb risk. A jump ball to the back of the end zone would have been understandable; a fade pattern would have been ok.

Still, when you have the best running attack and a QB who can scramble, you need to try to ram it down their throats at least once before attempting a pass.

Instead, New England fans will celebrate their former coach, Pete Carroll, who gift-wrapped a 4th Super Bowl ring for Tom Brady.