Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera lived up to his nickname and his reputation on Sunday. The Panthers rallied against the Detroit Lions with a late touchdown to set up what looked like overtime in Detroit. Trailing 20-13 with 2:44 remaining, Cam Newton led a six-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to D.J. Moore.
Conventional wisdom says kick the PAT to tie the game and play for overtime. A very high majority of NFL coaches would do just that. Not “Riverboat Ron.” He made sure there would not be an overtime.
Instead of sending out the kicking team for a game-tying extra point attempt, Rivera put his offense back on the field to attempt to take the lead with a 2-point conversion.
I was watching the game and was shocked with the decision. Even if Carolina got the two points, all the Lions had to do was kick a field goal to win. Anyway, the gamble did not pay off. Cam Newton missed an open receiver, Jarius Wright, in the end zone. As is the case with most of Newton’s misses, the throw was wild high.
Ron Rivera last Sunday
The Lions recovered the ensuing onside kick, and that was the end of the game. The Panthers fell to 6-4 with the 20-19 loss, their second straight defeat and a costly one in the suddenly crowded NFC wild-card picture.
A mitigating factor in Rivera’s decision is that Carolina kicker, Graham Gano, had earlier missed a PAT and a field goal. One has to believe that Rivera had little confidence in his kicker. I have to ask why is Gano on the roster if he cannot be called upon to make a PAT. The earlier misses were uncharacteristic of Gano who rarely missed and has been an All Pro kicker.
When asked about this after the game, Rivera stated that he felt going for two gave his team the best chance to win. Rivera lived up to his nickname but I do not think this was a good gamble. There was just too much time on the clock for Detroit to answer. As it turns out, they did not have to.
Another NFL Team Says No To Colin Kaepernick.
Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith suffered a gruesome season-ending leg injury in Sunday’s loss to the Houston Texans. Backup Colt McCoy filled in well enough in leading a pair of touchdown drives and has a leg up on the starting job for the rest of the season, but Washington needed to add another quarterback to the roster as there was nobody behind McCoy on the depth chart.
The Redskins ended up signing Mark Sanchez. When questioned about why Kaepernick was not given a tryout, Washington stated that it had no interest. Let me start out by stating this is an important roster move. The Redskins are currently in first place in the NFC East. They need to win games. Past statistics say that Kaepernick would be a better fit.
This story is yet another of teams passing on the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback in favor of bad quarterback play. The Buffalo Bills have started Derek Anderson and Nathan Peterman (twice!) this season with rookie Josh Allen injured.
The Jacksonville Jaguars benched the perennially poor Blake Bortles and gave him his job back. I know there would be Kaepernick hate from many. At least until he throws a touchdown pass. Just like when the many domestic violence perpetrators make a play that helps their teams win a game.
Okay, back to the stats. In 2016, his final year in San Francisco, Kaepernick tallied a 90.7 quarterback rating while throwing 16 touchdowns and four interceptions with an average of 7.2 yards per attempt through 12 games. He averaged 6.8 yards per rush while tallying 468 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. This is the same quarterback who was a play away from winning a Super Bowl and has an 88.9 career quarterback rating and a better than 2-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio for his career while averaging 6.1 yards per rush.
By comparison, Sanchez has a career rating of 73.9 while throwing as many interceptions (86) as he has touchdowns.
But we all know why Kaepernick was not chosen. Washington provides the latest case of evidence Kaepernick is too toxic to a league terrified of a return to the anti-kneeling phase.
Washington fans who had hopes of a division title and playoff run should be furious.