Frank Reich is clearly playing the long game with his young Colts team.
Because the decision he made near the end of overtime definitely cost them a chance for at least a tie in the short term.
“I’ll just address it now,” Reich said, via Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. “We’re not playing to tie. We’re going for it 10 times out of 10.”
With 27 seconds left in overtime, Reich appeared to go back and forth on what to do with a fourth-and-4 from their own 43 yard line.
He initially sent quarterback Andrew Luck to the line to try to hard-count the Texans into a cheap first down, but they weren’t going for it. Then after both teams called timeouts, they decided to go for the conversion.
It didn’t work, giving the Texans easy field position for a game-winning field goal, which snapped their nine-game losing streak.
It certainly wasn’t the prudent call for the Colts, because a punt would have easily pinned the Texans back, at least at their own 20, with no timeouts and most of the field to go with 24 seconds left.
And while Reich’s 1-3 because of it, he at least has the attention of his locker room. It was a hugely popular call among the players, and Luck was particularly enthused.
“Love it,” the quarterback said. “Everybody in that locker room liked that — no, LOVED that. Loved that. We can get behind that.”
If the Colts go onto greater success under Reich’s leadership, even if it’s not this year, it could be the kind of moment that unifies a team behind its leader. If they don’t, it’s just another loss, for a team which has had too many lately.