Saban should have paid more attention to missed field goals in the NFL

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Two weeks ago, Chiefs coach Andy Reid sent kicker Ryan Succop out for an NFL-record tying 63-yard field goal just before halftime in a Sunday night game against the Broncos.

And then Reid saw Broncos cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie deep in the end zone, with a plan of catching a short kick and returning it against a field-goal team largely consisting of large men who would have a hard time catching Rodgers-Cromartie.

Former Dolphins coach Nick Saban apparently wasn’t watching.  And Saban apparently wasn’t paying attention to several recent instances of long missed field goals being returned for touchdowns when he decided to try a 57-yarder with one second left in the 2013 Iron Bowl.

In 2006, Saban’s final year in the NFL, Bears receiver Devin Hester returned a missed field goal against the Giants for a 100-plus yard score.  The next year, former Chargers defensive back Antonio Cromartie did the same thing against the Vikings.

In 2009, former Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister did it against the Broncos on a Monday night.

Even the CFL has gotten in on the act, with a 125-yard touchdown return by Tim Brown of the B.C. Lions earlier this year.

So while Saban can point to all sorts of specific things that went wrong, from the kicker not hitting a 57-yard try hard enough to the players not doing a good enough job tracking down Auburn’s Chris Davis as he ran the ball back, the reality is that every coach who tries a long field goal runs the risk of a long return, unless and until the field-goal team includes players who are fast enough to catch the most elusive guy on the other team.

The smarter approach would have been for a coach who is a great college coach because he’s the best recruiter in the country to rely on his superior recruits to prevail in overtime.

11 responses to “Saban should have paid more attention to missed field goals in the NFL

  1. It happens every game in the CFL (returns not necessarily touchdowns) because the goalposts are at the front of the end zone, of course if the player doesn’t return it out in Canada it gives birth to the single worst rule in any type of football….the rouge, or a single point for missing.

  2. Are you referring to 4 time national champion Nick Saban? If you are i’m really sure you could help him out with some things with your football knowledge.

  3. Up by 7 and facing 4th down, Saban chose to go for it instead of a 30 yd FG. But he had scatback Yeldon in instead of Drake. Who knows if kicker would have made that FG or if Drake, a power runner, would have picked up FD. But that play is where momentum decisively shifted towards Auburn.

    Saban believed, and I concur, Bama would have lost in OT through a combination of poor defense and inability to kick a FG. Which makes long FG attempt even more boneheaded, even with different kicker. If unwilling to try 30 FG to put up by two scores in regulation, why try a long FG at end of regulation that even an elite FG kicker would have struggled with, especially without regular center. Auburn earned the win and Saban was out coached.

  4. Saban will forget all about this when he takes his new job next year. He guaranteed he’d stay at Alabama, so I’m pretty sure that coupled with the embarrassing loss ensures he’ll end up leaving for Texas, perhaps USC.

  5. This was an awful coaching performance for a number of reasons. This highly paid coach found a way to complicate himself right out of the game. Some people think he’s a good value, and I feel sorry for those people.

  6. I don’t claim to know what Saban told his FG team prior to attempting the kick, but seeing the replay of that last play from the ground level, it really does look like Alabama’s players didn’t even realize that Auburn being able to run it back was a possibility.

    Still think Saban is the best college coach by a pretty wide margin, but if they WEREN’T prepared for that possibility, that’s a pretty big slip up for such a detail oriented guy like him.

  7. “125 yards? Tim Brown? Explain.”

    CFL field is 110 yards long and the end zone is 20 yards deep. Therefore, max return is 130.

  8. “Are you referring to 4 time national champion Nick Saban? If you are i’m really sure you could help him out with some things with your football knowledge.”


    Your 4 time national champion just missed out on #5 because he didn’t have some of that knowledge.

  9. Real easy to say now that you know the outcome. If the fg kicker would had made it none of you clowns would be on here. Most people would had made the same decision. Critics are in the stands and the doers are on the field little dog.

  10. As Bill Barnwell pointed out today, if he “remembered the NFL,” he would have seen that since 2002, 389 field goals from 52 yards or longer were missed, and only four of them returned for a touchdown. A 1 percent chance of a return seems like pretty good odds.

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