John Fox: I had Peyton kneel down because bad things can happen


More than four months later, Denver coach John Fox is still being questioned about why he had Peyton Manning kneel down and run out the clock at the end of the fourth quarter of a playoff game the Broncos would ultimately lose to the Ravens.

And Fox is still standing by his decision to settle for overtime, rather than let Manning try to drive the Broncos into position for a game-winning field goal.

Too many bad things could happen. Remember, we had a pick-six earlier in the game,” Fox told the Denver Post. “I’d rather take my chances in overtime.”

Of course, bad things can happen in overtime, too. Bad things like, you know, losing the game, which is what the Broncos did.

But Fox says he can’t be swayed. He has talked it over with everyone all offseason, and he remains convinced that he did the strategically correct thing, even if it didn’t work out in this particular instance.

“I’ve debated it with my staff, my wife, myself. I would do the same thing 10 times out of 10,” Fox said.

I would disagree with Fox 10 times out of 10, but Fox doesn’t care what I or anyone else thinks. If the Broncos find themselves in the same situation this season, Fox will once again order Manning to take a knee, run out the clock and get ready for overtime.

78 responses to “John Fox: I had Peyton kneel down because bad things can happen

  1. I watched Peyton struggle with the game on the line for years in Indy. The fact he took otherwise mediocre, often times downright bad, teams into late and post season meaningful games far outweighed that though. I do believe Peyton and fox will bring a Super Bowl to Denver though, and I can’t wait to see it happen. Long live Peyton !!

  2. I know Peyton has thrown some costly interceptions but I’d always take my chances with him rather than overtime.

  3. Right or wrong, he made a decision and stuck with it. Second guessing does no good now

  4. That was more playing scared than conservative.

    First Peyton gets a shot at a perfect season yanked away from him and then this.

    Fans of football want to see what some of the best players ever can do in big-time situations.

  5. MichaelWrites

    And JD is widely disrespected to this day by many people for having one horrible playoff game over 4 years ago as if he wasn’t a pretty good (not elite) QB in his day. Meanwhile, Manning is like teflon when he has bad playoff games, like this one that you know…just happened a few months ago. I can’t stand how top players get excuses made for them when they have bad games when others not considered elite get thumped for the same type of performance. Not fair. It’s like blaming your Camry for not being a Ferrari but excusing the Ferrari for being in the shop all the time.

    Fox was widely reported years ago to have said he would plays things the way he does even if he had John Elway at QB. Well now Elway is his boss, and Fox is still Fox. And the same people who thump Fox for taking a knee dump on Belichick for going for it on 4th and 2. That’s why coaches shouldn’t listen to fans.

  6. You guys will see the real John Fox of Carolina! This man is scared and has good responsibility of bad season in Carolina because of his questionably “conservative” play calling… Remember he actually took the Panthers to the superbowl at first. Than year by year he begin to unravel. Broncos will soon be stuck with a Jimmy Clausen and a 1st round overall pick. Enjoy Elway

  7. The worst part is the falcons-Seahawks had this EXACT scenario with :31 seconds on the clock and 2 time outs. The falcons drove down for the game winning field goal and went on to the NFC championship.

    My question is why pay a guy $20 million a year and then make him take a knee with the game on the line in the playoffs when the other team has all the momentum in the world? That’s why you pay him the big bucks

  8. Every Ravens fan took a huge sigh of relief when Peyton took that knee. We all know very well what Peyton is capable of and to go 40 yards in 31 seconds for a make-able field goal in mile high is something he has done well over the years.

  9. If the Broncos had this mindset in 1997 they would’ve never beaten the Steelers in Pittsburgh and given Elway (the player) the opportunity to go out on back-to-back championships.

  10. We watched Fox make conservative calls like this for nine years in Carolina. No way he’s going to change. Between Peyton’s inevitable clutching in big games and Fox’s conservative play calling, Denver’s not going to see another SB ring this year or any other year while the two of them are still with the team.

  11. That was definitely the right call in that situation. Even with greatest QB of all time, it’s just better to not take a chance to try and win the game in regulation. If there is a chance you could lose, why would you even entertain the idea? Take the game to OT where you can give both teams a chance. By the way, this is Norv Turner.

  12. That’s about the dumbest way to evaluate that situation. Bad things can always happen, but in that situation good things were more likely to happen. This is a game of contesting the other team, and you need to pickup leverage when you can, and that play offered POSITIVE leverage. This should be an interview question for any coach in the league, if you get this question wrong then you should be shown the door before you can possibly influence anybody on the team and damage them with bad strategy advice.

  13. If ravens had returned the ball on the kickoff in overtime for a TD, and won without peyton touching the ball, Iam sure Fox wouldve been okay with that too.

  14. I bet this is one of many instances where Fox will not admit it was the wrong call. Bad things can happen on every single play. Peyton had A hance to drive the field nd kick a fueld goal to win without Baltimore touching the football again. By taking a knee, he increased Baltimore’s odds of winning. That is why Baltimore fans loved the call. Any opponent would beg for a knee in that situation.

  15. u also gotta figure this too, it was freezing cold out there and peyton brain does tend to freeze up in those elements, theres a big difference in the falcons game, they were in doors, peyton was outside in the freezing cold

  16. There seems to be a major difference between having, say, 3 seconds left on the clock with the back of the end zone behind you and 30+ seconds left with a no-brainer first ballot HOFer at the helm.

    It may be admirable that Fox is still sticking by his decision but it’s a decision clearly anchored in fear of losing rather than the courage of fighting. Pretty crazy.

  17. He says “bad things can happen” and specifically mentions the pick six?

    I have to wonder about the smarts of a coach who thinks throwing his 96 million dollar QB under the bus to defend his own decision is a good idea.

  18. John fox is a defensive coaching specialist and I would doubt he called offensive plays in Carolina. Calling plays in the Peyton Manning installed Denver offense, I would think goes to Peyton.

    And it does stink of the end of game cowardice that I’ve come to expect from Manning the lesser. Furthermore, considering that he eventually threw the game to the Ravens anyway, maybe if they don’t kneel, he turns the ball over anyway and the game doesn’t even make it to overtime.

    Every TRUE Colts fan should know, when its the end of the game, P. Manning is not the Manning to trust.

  19. Fox knows that once Manning is no longer under center, he’ll be out of a job because he can’t coach. He’ll draw a paycheck longer by keeping Manning healthy.

    Everyone knows that it’s Elway and Manning who decide how long Fox is around and if Manning is happy so is Elway.

  20. So, you want to have a 50-50 chance of getting to the same position you are in now. 100% vs 50%. A pick 6 wins either way.

  21. This is a “no win” situation.
    If Fox would have fought to the end and a turnover (fumble, pick or blocked FG) happened that led to a score, he still would’ve been vilified and the question would be “Why didn’t he just run out the clock?” Either decision is a calculated risk and he chose for my time. It didn’t work out. Oh well, get over it obviously he has.

  22. I agree with therealbleedcoltsblue. In all the commentary everybody is criticizing Coach Fox, and appropriately so. But during the game at that point, my reaction was “Why doesn’t Manning protest this??” In other words, you would expect a “fierce competitor” to argue with the coach about “giving up,” but he didn’t.

    And I think it’s because Manning feels the grip of fear in those tense playoff moments like that, and was worried about throwing yet another pick-six. (Also, did anyone else notice that after half-time Manning didn’t seem to throw any passes longer than 10 yards?)

    I wouldn’t rag on Manning so much except for the fact that he actively encourages people to call him “the best QB ever” (which he definitely is not) and to place blame on others when they fail. And as a Saints fan, Peyton we will never forget that you didn’t shake Drew’s hand after the Superbowl loss!

  23. horrible things like Peyton taking the team down the field and into field goal range to win the game!

  24. When you coach not to lose, more often than not you lose, especially in big games. Just ask Marty Shottenheimer.

  25. We need to look through the haze to see the real story here: It was Manning who called the kneel and Fox is jumping on the grenade to protect his star. Manning was rattled and didn’t want to end the game on an INT or even worse, a pick six. He protects himself and his legacy by calling the kneel. Fox deserves credit here for not outing his QB (though the mention of the earlier pick six is a passive aggressive leak).

  26. John Fox actions, simply told his offense I do not trust you. We could try and win this game but I’m afraid you will mess it up. How can anyone want to play with a coach who doesn’t have confidence in his team. As for him saying he would do it 10 times out of 10? I guess John Fox is the definition of insanity!

  27. Wow..not take a chance with one of, if not, the best QB of all time. Fox should have been fired then, and fired again for still not realizing his mistake.

  28. Favre never took a knee … he won some games and lost some but all the haters ever talk about are the ones he lost. Maybe that’s why Fox will always take a knee.

  29. Panther fans were not surprised at all to see Fox play it very safe which he tends to do. Many would say Fox plays to keep from losing instead of playing to win. It comes across as a lack of confidence in his players. Peyton is your QB for goodness sake.

    It’s much more fun to watch and inspiring to see teams play to win. Yes even if they do end up losing.

  30. John Fox is lying.

    When the Donks had Tebow they didn’t take knees at the end of games in 2011. The Broncos won countless games on 50+ yard last second FG’s to win.

    The difference is he didn’t want to put the pressure on Manning and have the fans blame Manning for the loss…oops.

    So, in a sense, John Fox is paying Peyton Manning $20 million a year to take a knee with the game on line.

  31. It wasn’t just that one play. Earlier in the game it was third and seven with a chance to secure the win, they chose to run. Why even bother? Just punt the ball if you worry your offense might screw it up.

  32. Hard to believe that conversations with his wife & himself didn’t reveal to him that he’d made a mistake. :p

  33. Why is this still even being talked about? The season is over the loss is in the books. As much as I loved seeing Denver lose its in the past let’s move on & talk about things that actually matter THIS YR!!!

  34. How do we know it was the wrong decision? Because they lost. It’s as simple as that. The worst that could have happened is Manning throws a pick 6 and they lose. Which they did anyway. Losin while being aggressive you can live with. Losing without really trying? Inexcusable.

  35. Welcome to “resting the starters for the last few games” version 2.0, Manning fans. Just as Colts leadership helped hobble Manning’s chances of Super Bowl glory with that team, Fox has helpfully announced in advance the timidity that will spell doom in Denver.

    “Playing the odds” is what teams without Hall of Fame quarterbacks do, because they have to. The rules are different when you have one of the greatest players of all time on your roster. Play by the rules of a weak team, get weak results.

  36. If he was so confident that he made the right decision he wouldn’t have felt the need to “talk it over with everyone all offseason”.

  37. As a Panthers fan I couldn’t be happier to see “it is what it is” making sure that Elway never wins a championship. What kind of loser can never admit when they are wrong?

  38. As a Chief fan I couldn’t agree more with coach Fox. Keep the ball out of Peyton’s hands as much as possible. Yeah, that’s the smart thing to do coach. Keep doing that, please!

  39. For the record and the 100+ people who liked an above post:

    The Seahawks/Falcons game was NOT the “exact” same situation.

    ATL was DOWN and therefore did not have an option.

    The Denver game was tied.

    Fox still made the wrong decision, but if your going to use the word “exact” and get it wrong, you prob shouldnt be criticizing anyone.

  40. Bad things can and usually do happen if your quarterback’s name is Michael Vick. This is Peyton Manning we’re talking about. Let him try to win the game.

  41. Loser mentality.

    And I thought Peyton was the greatest ever? If you have the greatest ever, then why kneel? Put the ball in the hands of the greatest ever. I guess he’s not the greatest ever. Brady is.

  42. And if Manning didn’t throw the “pick six” earlier in the game, maybe your comment woyld be “9 out of ten times” and you would have gone for it.

  43. it happens all the time. 30 seconds left, two timeouts and a team scores field goal to win the game. What are the chances if we took a straw poll of five quarterbacks any football fan would want running their offense, one would be Peyton Manning? Stupid, stupid decision. Quit defending it and take ownership of a mistake.

  44. How about a career ending injury to a 98 million dollar QB? Yeah that was what probably would have happen with that Ravens D.

  45. Biggest issue is that Broncos failed to make anything happen in over time. 15:00 mins is more then 30 secs. If you can’t make it happen in 15 mins then you are not worthy to win.

  46. If Peyton “struggles with the game on the line” then how did they get to the SuperBowl in 2010 when he led the league in 9, 4th quarter victories?

    Maybe his coaches got out coached in the really “big games”. Opposing coaches never got enough credit outcoaching Dungy or even Fox this year. Lets not forget the defensive gameplans of Bellichek, Riveria, 2 of the best minds in the game…

    I’m sure some of the blame involving late game interceptions were Manning’s fault, but in recent memory last year is the only time I remember him throwing a horrible pass in the cold, coming back from injury, and a team that was obviously tired as hell.

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