Many football fans probably missed the end of the Jags-Titans game on Monday night. First off, the game was a total dud because Jacksonville failed to show up. Matters weren’t helped when each team’s starting quarterback got hurt, leaving us with the delightful Trent Edwards-Kerry Collins struggle (first to two field goals wins!). Once things got to 20-0 in the third quarter, fans probably switched over to TBS to watch Cliff Lee and the Rangers against the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALCS. I kept checking back with the football game, but I missed the very end when Chris Johnson scored a touchdown to make it 30-3 in the final two minutes. I was shocked to see that he had scored that TD, and now I realize it’s become a controversy.
Pro Football Talk’s Gregg Rosenthal pointed out via the Titans Insider that Titans coach Jeff Fisher says he only ran the ball late because ESPN had asked the coaches to call timeouts so the network could air more commercials. Going back over the boxscore, it’s quite curious that Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio called timeouts after two Chris Johnson runs inside the two minute warning. Why would a coach down 20 points with two minutes left begin burning timeouts?
Fisher explained it after the game, “My understanding is they needed network timeouts, and that’s why Jack used his timeouts. They came over and asked me to do it, but I said, ‘I was hoping to get a first down and kneel on it.'”
Had Del Rio not called the two timeouts, the Titans likely would have been able to kneel on the ball and run out the clock. Instead, they poured on the extra touchdown, helping out Chris Johnson fantasy owners in the process. Sports by Brooks says ESPN is denying the claim, but what would you expect them to say? Why would a league like to have the impression that TV controls its product, even if we all already know that’s the case?
The only logical explanation for why Del Rio took the extra timeouts was to see if his team could get the ball back to give Trent Edwards some more game experience with his new team. Now that is semi-plausible.
UPDATE: It appears as if Jeff Fisher was just making a joke.
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