At the conclusion of his Indianapolis Colts’ 24-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on “Monday Night Football” in Week 12, Jeff Saturday attempted to justify his actions by using some dubious clock management.
With just under four minutes remaining, the Colts started their final possession at their 7, needing a score to have a chance of winning or tying the game. With just under three minutes left, they reached midfield, and at the two-minute warning, they found themselves in a 4th-and-3 at the 37. When the Colts converted, however, things started to go wrong.
After the conversion, the timer started to run. On the first down, Matt Ryan was sacked, which continued the clock. On 2nd-and-17, Ryan scampered for 14 yards, but the Colts still chose not to use their timeout.
Only 34 seconds remained when they lined up for their third-and-three play. When there was no point in stopping Jonathan Taylor, Indy eventually called timeout with 30 seconds remaining. Before they called a timeout, they ran through three plays in a minute and a half.
Indy’s chances of a comeback were lost when they failed to convert on a 4th-and-3.
Why didn’t Saturday utilize his timeouts more often? He clarified that he didn’t think it was important to save time after the game.
Saturday stated, “I didn’t feel like time was really of the essence at the moment. I had the impression that we still had time, would have time later, and would be within striking distance.
Jeff Saturday on not using timeouts on the Colts’ final drive:
“I didn’t really think that time was of the essence.”
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 29, 2022
The greatest factor in whether or not Saturday should have called a timeout is whether or not he believed it would benefit his offense more to not slow down the action and allow the Steelers a break.
He made a wise choice not to use the timeouts if he believed that depriving Pittsburgh of the chance to get ready would benefit Indianapolis. He would have called timeouts, though, if he had believed that his offense need extra time to plan its plays.
The Colts’ unsuccessful drive did not appear to be caused by the timeouts. The Colts failed on that drive because their offense isn’t strong enough to carry out a 93-yard touchdown drive in any circumstance. I believe that Matt Ryan gained the additional 14 yards on the scramble thanks to the no-timeout plan. Setting up plays wouldn’t have helped, in my opinion, because their quarterback performance is the real issue.