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Caldwell ordered third-and-one call

The Colts had the best two-minute drive quarterback of his era, perhaps any era, and they chose to run the ball with Mike Hart instead.

The Colts’ decision to go conservative late in the first half, more than any other, is ripe for debate by Monday morning quarterbacks like us.  (Actually, it’s Tuesday.  But I spent Monday flying home and recharging after an intense nine days in south Florida.)

The following quote from Peyton Manning indicates that the decision to run came from above.

“Had we gotten that first down, we were going to call a timeout and
then go back to our two-minute offense, but Jim Caldwell told Tom [Moore] to try to get a first down, try to punch it out first,” Manning said.

“We
feel like you should convert that third down and we didn’t. Then we
gave them a short field and gave them the easy field goal. That was a
disappointing series,” he finished.  (Manning unsurprisingly didn’t sound thrilled with the decision.)

The call was poor and the execution was worse.  But we’re still confused with the Colts didn’t start the drive more aggressively.  The Colts drove 80 yards in 58 seconds against the top-ranked pass defense in the league in their previous game.  Surely, the Saints were worth attacking.

Instead, that sequence set the table for a second half where it felt like the Colts were in retreat.

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51 Responses to “Caldwell ordered third-and-one call”
  1. Sportnman says: Feb 9, 2010 1:02 PM

    Hell, you’ve been passing the ball all game, why go away from it…..?? Attack, attack, attack!

  2. dasboat says: Feb 9, 2010 1:04 PM

    The only thing more disappointing than that call was the speed at which Manning threw Jim Caldwell under the bus!

  3. d.b.cooper says: Feb 9, 2010 1:05 PM

    Surprising, I didn’t know Caldwell was actually involved in decisions.

  4. rhymenosaurus says: Feb 9, 2010 1:06 PM

    Does it strike anyone as kind of odd that Peyton bothered to use Jim Caldwell’s full name in that quote, and not just Jim or “coach?” It somehow implies a sense of distaste… I can just imagine him saying the whole name with a sense of sarcasm or something.
    It just somehow would read differently if he said, “but coach…” or “but Jim…”

  5. jobob247 says: Feb 9, 2010 1:07 PM

    lol @ the statement ” the best two-minute quarterback of his era, perhaps any era”.
    Unreal how the media can hype peyton manning who has a .500 record in the playoffs when it counts.

  6. redsquare says: Feb 9, 2010 1:12 PM

    No surprise there–Colts coaching & management killed them this year with their timid, play-it-safe approach.
    And I personally think this is the moment where the Colts lost the game. Best last-minute QB in the league, and they call 3 runs? Chance to go up by two scores at halftime, and you just try to run down the clock?
    The message from Colts leadership to the players has been, “you can’t do it.” You can’t go undefeated, it’s too risky. You can’t put the Saints away, it’s too risky. After that moment, it seemed like the life went out of both sides of the ball for the Colts.
    The Saints, on the other hand, went for broke. Three successful field goals over 40 yards. Onside kick by a rookie kicker. They played like a team that wanted to win. The Colts played like they were killing time and just trying not to lose.
    I hope everyone’s learned their lessons here. The Colts don’t win by running the ball. Payton Manning. End of story. Caldwell, Polian, just get the hell out of the way already.

  7. Bill.Polian says: Feb 9, 2010 1:12 PM

    Manning throwing someone under the bus again, what a huge surprise!

  8. slipkid says: Feb 9, 2010 1:20 PM

    you mean… peyton isnt actually the coach too???
    what would favre say?

  9. OZZ says: Feb 9, 2010 1:21 PM

    Caldwell was out coached.
    That’s like saying the sky is blue. No shit.

  10. svn says: Feb 9, 2010 1:22 PM

    Well..we give manning all the credit when changes plays at the line etc. He couldve called pass and converted the 3rd down. he said he passed more when run was called in jets game,so why follow the script here ?

  11. shaggeez says: Feb 9, 2010 1:22 PM

    the colts actually ran the ball pretty decently, particularly in the first half, and given that if you dont get the first down you want to leave the other team with as little time as possible, i dont really disagree with a 3rd and 1-2 yard run. obviously they didnt get it, but it was more a result of good defense than poor play-calling. most times, you get that first down.

  12. GhostofFlorioPast says: Feb 9, 2010 1:23 PM

    It’s a classic choke by the coach. Take the ball out of one of the greatest offensive threats in league history – to be on the safe side? You could just see Caldwell’s nads shrinking to the size of caraway seeds.
    People criticized Belichick for going for it on fourth down in his own end. That, my friends is fearlessness. The fear of failure makes boneheads of us all.

  13. pitch87mph says: Feb 9, 2010 1:24 PM

    Couldn’t agree more. This entire game after the 1st quarter had that “not to lose” feel from the Indy side of things. The Indy coaches didn’t match the Saints in terms of strategy nor “intensity of the moment”. It was very Schottenheimeresqe (sp?). Even though they probably had the more talented team, it wasn’t so significant where they could just mail it in and assume Peyton would bail them out in the end. I think Peyton felt the same energy from the coaches and played accordingly–though that throw to Dallas Clark into quadruple coverage is still one of the best throws I’ve ever seen (but who cares–they lose). Player play, coaches coach (as they like to say). But this game was an indictment on the Colts coaching staff–after being brilliant all year long, sans the giving up 16-0 call–but maybe that’s the point. Maybe giving up the perfect season caused them to lose just enough of their edge to cost them the SB… just saying.

  14. leatherneck says: Feb 9, 2010 1:26 PM

    “Idiot coach.”

  15. wyoff says: Feb 9, 2010 1:30 PM

    “redsquare-
    Best last-minute QB in the league, and they call 3 runs”
    I didn’t know that Ben Roethlisberger played for the Colts.

  16. Sportnman says: Feb 9, 2010 1:31 PM

    @rhymensaurous-
    EXCELLENT

  17. Patsfan1776 says: Feb 9, 2010 1:31 PM

    Wasn’t Peyton running the offense all season and get all the praise for his audibles in the conference championship game? Somehow in the SuperBowl, he wasn’t audibling.

  18. CKL says: Feb 9, 2010 1:31 PM

    God PM is a douche. He couldn’t simply say WE DISCUSSED IT AND THIS WAS THE DECISION? He has an easy enough time not taking a scintilla of blame on his shoulders for that pick when he had Collie open.
    Funny how he never credits his coaches when he is told how brilliant his own playcalling is.
    That’s vintage Manning though. HORRENDOUS leader.

  19. holycow says: Feb 9, 2010 1:34 PM

    He only calls his own plays when they work.

  20. cuervo23 says: Feb 9, 2010 1:36 PM

    Gutless Call. Peyton has reason to be upset. I thought it was a major turning point.

  21. StoneTemplePilot says: Feb 9, 2010 1:37 PM

    Manning blaming someone again. What? He couldn’t blame his line for the game so blame the coach? What a whiner. “Best two minute QB of era?” Hahahaha Comical

  22. Stetson wears panties says: Feb 9, 2010 1:41 PM

    It takes a really dumb and ignorant son of a bitch to say that he is throwing anyone under the bus.
    Full quote minus the Rosenpatriotspalms spin…
    (on if he regrets not being more aggressive on the last series at the end of the first half) “I think based on the field position, certainly on third-and-one, we expected to get that. Had we gotten that first down, we were going to call a time out and then go back into our two-minute offense, but (Colts Head Coach) Jim Caldwell told (Colts Senior Offensive Coordinator) Tom (Moore) to try to get a first down, try to punch it out first. We were in phase to do that. I think we had second-and-six and then got five yards on the next play I think. Third-and-one, we were in good position. The third-and-one execution of the play was disappointing. We feel like you should convert that third down and we didn’t, certainly gave them a short field, and gave them the easy field goal. That was a disappointing series.”

  23. Scott P says: Feb 9, 2010 1:42 PM

    Did anyone notice that when the Colts went for it on 4th down in the 2nd half (and got it on the quick slant to Wayne) that it appeared the decision to go for it was 100% Mannings? After coming up short on 3rd, cameras showed Manning immediately signaling and pointing with fingers ahead the ‘go for it’ signal…cameras panned to Caldwell who had is usual weird ‘concerned yet not involved’ look on his face with arms folded. It looked like Manning made the call..and Caldwell was only hoping it worked out..this would mean that Manning is essentailly the head coach and play caller all along and Caldwell is really just an interested observer. That would be a very unique and questionable arrangement.

  24. albialbi says: Feb 9, 2010 1:42 PM

    caldwell really showed his rookie status during the game…colts had to best chance to get the second ring and management and coaches blew it…just let Manning do what he does best…YOU WERE RANKED IN THE BOTTOM AT RUNNING THE BALL…why ran on the most important drive and game?…Manning should have just changed the play called and ran his 2min offense…wat a waste of a football year
    And Reggie Wayne..seriously can you catch the ball…or maybe even try to tackle Porter when he ran your route better than you did?
    If i were manning i would be pissed too…and let me feelings out for everyone to know…all the dedication he has put in for that team and they just ruin it like that

  25. BigEasy says: Feb 9, 2010 1:44 PM

    The Saints held the Colts to 17pts and won by 14pts….not sure why we’re still talking about their lack of offensive production….oh thats right all you media dipshits do was give #18 more props than #9 and the entire Saints Offense that is rated #1 in the NFL and had a top Defense in the Red Zone….wah wah wah!!!!!!!!
    This is almost worse than the articles that broke after the Viqueen….er Saints beat the Viqueens!!

  26. jpk6044 says: Feb 9, 2010 1:50 PM

    I love how it’s never Peyton’s fault. Even on the pick 6 – which is clearly the most glaring reason the colts lost the game – Manning would only say that “Porter made a great play.” Not ‘I screwed up’ nor ‘it was my fault’ nor ‘I wish I had that one back.’
    One of the biggest chokers and self-apologists in the history of the game. The only reason he has a super bowl title is Rex Grossman (and I’m not a bears fan). I’m certain Peyton sends him a yearly Christmas card.

  27. Occam says: Feb 9, 2010 1:56 PM

    “People criticized Belichick for going for it on fourth down in his own end. That, my friends is fearlessness. The fear of failure makes boneheads of us all. ”
    Totally. The Saints played to win, while the Colts played not to lose. Hats off to New Orleans.

  28. Observer1 says: Feb 9, 2010 1:56 PM

    I didn’t realize the quarteback was solely responsible for wins and losses. Saying Manning is 500 in the playoffs really is irrelevent to how good or bad he is. This is a team sport and the quarterback or linebacker or whomever can not control the entire game.
    The Colts beat themselves by lacking a killer instinct. They let far too many teams hang around by letting off the gas. IMO, the tow biggest plays of the game were Garcon drop and the poor spot Addai got on the first three and out of the half. He had a first down but was marked a yard short. In the end, the Saints out played the Colts which is what makes the playoffs great. Any team any day.

  29. zod says: Feb 9, 2010 2:00 PM

    GhostofFlorioPast says:
    February 9, 2010 1:23 PM
    It’s a classic choke by the coach. Take the ball out of one of the greatest offensive threats in league history – to be on the safe side? You could just see Caldwell’s nads shrinking to the size of caraway seeds.
    People criticized Belichick for going for it on fourth down in his own end. That, my friends is fearlessness. The fear of failure makes boneheads of us all.
    ————————–
    +1
    I believe this is known as Schottenheimer’s disease

  30. Sportnman says: Feb 9, 2010 2:06 PM

    I HATE the Saints, and I HATE the Colts!
    Bottomline….SAINTS WON!
    Congrats….
    Now, let’s all move along to the Draft!!!!

  31. slipkid says: Feb 9, 2010 2:15 PM

    It was an odd call.

  32. sand0 says: Feb 9, 2010 2:20 PM

    Running on 3rd and 1 gives you the highest probability of conversion. Passing on 3rd and 1 gives you a higher probability of a big play to work towards a field goal or TD.
    The Colts did not convert. Bummer. But passing the ball would have created a higher percentage chance of not converting while also saving a timeout for the Saints. You can’t question their call based on the fact that the play didn’t work. Obviously any time a play doesn’ work, regardless of down and distance, you can look back the next day and say it was a bad move.
    I think running on first and 10 and 2nd and 5 were bad decisions when you have Manning at the helm. But running on 3rd and 1 deep in your own territory without much time left absolutely is the right call as long as Manning has the option to audible out of it if the Saints show some extreme defensive front that would stuff your run almost certainly.

  33. DanRooney says: Feb 9, 2010 2:25 PM

    wyoff says:
    February 9, 2010 1:30 PM
    “redsquare-
    Best last-minute QB in the league, and they call 3 runs”
    I didn’t know that Ben Roethlisberger played for the Colts.
    ———————————————-
    Well played, sir. Well played.

  34. The Genius says: Feb 9, 2010 2:43 PM

    At least Caldwell is consistent. The 3rd down play was as boring and uninspired as not going for an undefeated season.
    Yawn.
    In Sean Payton you could see the hunger and inspiration.
    And I was rooting for the Colts.

  35. Reptar says: Feb 9, 2010 3:08 PM

    The Colts played an aggressive, play-to-win style for 14 regular season games and 2 playoff games. I think most Colts fans are still struggling to understand why they played so conservative in the Super Bowl. The Saints are a terrific team that makes you change your gameplan, but the way the Colts were rolling out the soft zone, you’d have thought Ron Meeks was still the defensive coordinator.
    I really wish someone in the press would grill the coaching staff about this. They don’t seem to want to say much right now or admit fault. Peyton already fell on the sword, I think it’s only right Caldwell and Coyer do, too.

  36. kappa08 says: Feb 9, 2010 3:23 PM

    classic Dungy clone….everybody that thinks Dungy is the second coming of coaching didn’t have to deal with him placing unknown “Christians” as Offensive coordinators that didn’t have the guts to throw the ball…Dungy and his disciples became “great” because of Manning period.
    Note that my boy Parcells has a lot more winning DNA out there than Dungy ever will…..

  37. bustabloodvessel says: Feb 9, 2010 3:27 PM

    BigEasy,
    Big words from a fan of the team who was handed the trophy. Shouldn’t have even made it to the super bowl. Head of NFL officiating pretty much said that one. Offensive p.i. in the super bowl should have been defensive, ball spotted at the 1, much different outcome. Saints defender had his arm locked, with a firm grip on the rec. jersey.

  38. texasPHINSfan says: Feb 9, 2010 3:32 PM

    Wait, so calling a run on 3rd and 1 is a bad call?
    What planet am I on? Something tells me if they threw & it was incomplete, you’d all be crying for them to have run it for the “easy” yard.
    Monday morning quarterbacking right here.

  39. DJSlyBri says: Feb 9, 2010 3:34 PM

    Let’s say the Colts did exactly what people are now saying they should have done, and Peyton was intercepted, or if there was a fumble. Everyone would have screamed, “DON’T THEY REMEMBER JACK SQUIREK!” or “Didn’t they see what happened to Texas in the BCS Championship Game?”
    Please. All of the geniuses are so brilliant that once everything happens, then can tell you to the letter what the other guy should have done.

  40. VoxVagina says: Feb 9, 2010 3:42 PM

    The Colts killed themselves with an awful 2 minute drive. Being down 2 scores, they needed to score quickly or get out of bounds, and save their timeouts, and then kick the onside kick. If they failed, which is a likely scenario, they would at least have their 3 timeouts as a last resort. Their D could’ve made the stop and given the Colts the ball with enough time to have a shot at tying the game. They didn’t do any of those things. Conservative check down passes to the middle of the field kept the clock running, and they didn’t use the sidelines to their advantage. They had 3 minutes and basically 4 timeouts if you count the 2 min warning to tie the game. Unlikely? Yes, but still possible. they didn’t do even one thing to put themselves in position to take it into overtime. The run call was awful as well. The worst was using the 1st timeout. It basically sealed the loss. I think with better clock management, the Colts would have had a fair chance to take the game to overtime

  41. MLZ says: Feb 9, 2010 3:45 PM

    This is what I expect from a coach so risk averse that he had his team quit in pursuit of 19-0.

  42. Raiders757 says: Feb 9, 2010 3:50 PM

    jobob247 says: February 9, 2010 1:07 PM
    lol @ the statement ” the best two-minute quarterback of his era, perhaps any era”.
    Unreal how the media can hype peyton manning who has a .500 record in the playoffs when it counts.
    —————————————————
    You act as if being .500 in the playoffs is some sort of terrible achievement. Dan Marino is considered one of the best of all time, yet he was 8-10 I believe. By your logic, I guess Dan was just a turd as well? Give me a break with this idiotic B.S.. Peyton Manning is the best QB in the league right now, and being 9-9 doesn’t taint that fact one single bit. It’s not like he hasn’t already won a Super Bowl. Yes, he deserves the hype whether you like it or not.

  43. tryagain says: Feb 9, 2010 4:23 PM

    ‘It takes a really dumb and ignorant son of a bitch to say that he is throwing anyone under the bus.’
    then i must be a really dumb daughter of a bitch b/c rhymenosaurus made me question peyton’s wording myself.
    here’s the deal, no one (in their right mind) is saying peyton sucks, but seems to me he (and his fans) does (do) like to deflect criticism away from him regardless of the situation.
    if he gets the accolades, then he should get the heat.
    and lastly- i’ve seen lots of comments arguing that it doesn’t matter if he wins another big one– he’s still the greatest. i don’t think so- in my books, he’s just like every other qb with one ring. i.e. peyton = eli

  44. dowens11 says: Feb 9, 2010 5:37 PM

    I stopped reading the comments after about 20 mainly because that small sample gave me an idea of what the majority of posters were saying. I must say, I am surprisingly surprised at how many people lack critical thinking skills (although I shouldn’t be). Most of you all take the easy way and say the popular thing in your criticism of Coach Caldwell and ignore how stupid Peyton sounds in his explanation.
    SVN hit the nail on the head in an earlier post when addressing Peyton changing plays at the line. When has PM ever hesitated to make his own call at the line? I’ve seen this guy wave a field goal unit off of the field in order to run a 4th down play, virtually pimp slapping then Coach Dungy across the kisser. But now, he’s T.O.? “I just go with the plays they call. I’m just running the plays they call!” Give me a break. Up until this very moment I liked Peyton Manning quite a bit.

  45. Stetson wears panties says: Feb 9, 2010 7:14 PM

    tryagain,
    Then you must be.

  46. tryagain says: Feb 9, 2010 9:18 PM

    stetson,
    maybe so– but just so you know the info you added to the quote made no difference whatsoever.
    and lastly, the colts still lost.

  47. BleedColtsBlue says: Feb 9, 2010 11:56 PM

    Wait a minute…
    Peyton Manning calls the plays.. the ‘Check with me’ offense is well known in Indianapolis Colts football fan circles. It involves Moore signaling in three plays and Manning choosing one.
    Now all of a sudden, CALDWELL is calling the offensive plays?
    WTF ever.. Peyton Manning… YOU SUCK!
    Go Colts!!!!

  48. Richm2256 says: Feb 10, 2010 10:00 AM

    All of a sudden, in one of the biggest games of his career, Peyton Maning decides not to over rule a coaches call, and runs a play he doesn’t believe in?
    Is anybody buying this crap?
    Peyton Maning, who as someone else pointed out, actually sent a field goal unit OFF THE FIELD before???
    And yeah, I would have loved for Manning to sack up and say “That pass Porter picked off was STUPID, too predictable” or “I didn’t get it where I needed to”. You can bet your a$$ that’s what Tom Brady would have said, because he HAS. And to the moron who blamed Reggie Wayne for not tackling Porter; dude, Porter was 5 yards off of Wayne and moving in the complete opposite direction when he made that pick. Superman couldn’t have caught him.
    And you mean to tell me that Jeff Saturday and crew, in the freaking SuperBowl no less, couldn’t get one single yard on that third down? You don’t belong on that field if you can’t.
    The Saints had the hunger, while they played flat in the first quarter they really strapped it on after that and played balls out. That onside kick stunned me, and made me feel that N.O. was definitely more motivated than Indy to win this football game.

  49. Stetson wears panties says: Feb 10, 2010 2:55 PM

    try again,
    You’ve already proven how ignorant you are by making the comments you’ve made. Are you trying to cement that in stone?

  50. Stetson wears panties says: Feb 10, 2010 4:54 PM

    Bleedcoltsblue is just a racist pretend Colts fan that would rather see the Colts have Michael Vick under center for one reason and one reason all.
    He’s always been an idiot and always will be an idiot.
    He’s the type of fan that doesn’t deserve such greatness on his favorite team(cough cough).

  51. BleedColtsBlue says: Feb 14, 2010 6:37 PM

    @ Stetson
    You sure seem to think about me a lot more than I think about you.
    Besides, if I was such an idiot, you would actually refute something I’ve said instead of just personally attacking me and looking like the obsessed moron we’re all finding you to be.
    *shrug*
    Go Colts!!!!

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