With 29 seconds left, the clock running and the Jets having the ball at the Colts’ 32-yard line, Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell made a surprising decision: He called timeout.
The TV cameras caught the look on Peyton Manning’s face on the sideline, and Manning was obviously thinking the same thing many of us were thinking: “What in the world is Caldwell doing?”
Caldwell was asked to explain after the game.
“I didn’t care. I was going to make sure that they couldn’t. Make them snap the ball. They were in field goal range,” Caldwell said. “We wanted to try to make them snap the ball as many times as they possibly could.”
Yes, the Jets were in field goal range: In range for what would have been a 50-yard field goal, which is no chip shot for Jets kicker Nick Folk, who went 5-for-11 on field goal attempts of 40 yards or longer this season. As it turned out, on the very next play after that timeout, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez hit Braylon Edwards on an 18-yard completion, and on the next play after that Folk kicked the game-winning 32-yard field goal as time expired.
Frankly, Caldwell’s explanation doesn’t make any sense because his decision doesn’t make any sense. Making the Jets snap the ball again just gave the Jets another opportunity to make the field goal easier, and that’s exactly what they did.
Caldwell should have known better, because he made the same mistake during the regular season at Jacksonville, using two timeouts during the Jaguars’ final drive and helping Jacksonville set up a game-winning field goal. Caldwell didn’t learn from that mistake, and the Jets benefited on Saturday night.