The explanation made about as much sense as the decision.
Doug Pederson’s decision to punt in the final seconds of the Eagles’ game against the Bengals instead of trying to get a 12-yard completion and a first down to get into position for a game-winning field goal is really indefensible.
A punt gives you no chance to win.
Going for it gives you a chance to win.
Doug chose “no chance” over “a chance.”
“We didn't want to give them the ball towards midfield or even a chance to go for it on fourth down and long,” Pederson said. “Incomplete pass, something like that. They get the ball, short field, they could kick a field goal and win the game. Just made that decision. Hopefully something positive might have come out of the punt.”
Let’s think about that.
After Matt Pryor’s horrible penalty, the Eagles had a 4th-and-12 at the Bengals’ 49-yard-line with 19 seconds left. Neither team had a timeout.
A field goal was no longer an option, but we’ve seen Jake Elliott make a 61-yard game-winner and he made a 54-yarder earlier in the game with room to spare.
To get in range for a 54-yarder, the Eagles needed 13 yards.
You’ve got a quarterback making $100 million, you send everybody past the sticks, you get 13 yards, you clock the ball with a few seconds to go and you have a legit field goal attempt - Elliott is 3-for-6 in his career from 54 yards and out.
What’s the worst that can happen?
If Wentz throws incomplete, there’s maybe 10 or 11 seconds left, the Bengals are just inside midfield, and they have no timeouts.
And they have a kicker - Randy Bullock - who’s 3-for-11 in his nine-year career from 52 yards and out.
So Doug is saying he’d rather guarantee a tie than:
A) Have a chance to win with a 12-yard pass and a kick his kicker already made today and if that doesn't work ...
B) Give the Bengals an opportunity to gain 18 yards in 10 or 11 seconds with a rookie quarterback and stop the clock without a timeout and make a kick their kicker has made three times in nine years.
Remember aggressive Doug? Remember gunslinger Doug? What happened to that guy?
I’d rather lose that game trying to win it than walk out of the Linc with an 0-2-1 record and a tie against the Bengals.
Jalen Mills wasn’t asked specifically about Pederson’s decision to punt when he said this: “We play this game to win. The Philadelphia Eagles have one standard and that’s to win at home and not play for a tie or a loss.”
But that’s exactly what Pederson did. He played for a tie. Faced with the option of playing for a win or a tie, he chose the tie.
Pederson was asked 10 minutes after the game what message it sends to his team when he punts with 19 seconds and gives his team no chance to win, barring a fumbled punt return.
“That's a good question,” Pederson said. “Obviously, in those situations you hopefully do what's right for the football team. That's probably a decision I'll look back on tomorrow and say we could have done something else. It is what it is. We'll learn from it. I'll learn from it. We'll get better.”
If Pederson is questioning his decision 10 minutes after the game, what does that tell you?
“Looking back, hindsight is 20/20, I guess,” he said. “I’ll look at that decision tomorrow with clearer eyes and make a decision later."
Which raises another question: Why weren’t his eyes clear enough to make the decision when it mattered?