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#pounditSaturday, July 20, 2024

Bucs timeout controversy had very reasonable explanation

Todd Bowles on the sideline

Dec 17, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles walks from the field following the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Todd Bowles was criticized for not calling a timeout at the end of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday, but a closer look at the situation shows how overblown some of those reactions have been.

The Buccaneers were trailing 31-23 late in their Divisional Round loss to the Lions when Baker Mayfield threw an interception to linebacker Derrick Barnes. Detroit took over at the Tampa Bay 28-yard line with 1:33 remaining in the game.

The Bucs had one timeout left after the turnover. If they used that timeout and got the stops they needed, it would have been mathematically possible for them to get the ball back with minimal time remaining in a one-score game.

Jared Goff took a knee on the first play, and Todd Bowles opted to not use a timeout. Goff then kneeled two more times and let the remainder of the clock run out. When the Lions took their third and final knee, there were still 36 seconds left and the Bucs had not used their timeout.

Tampa Bay could have called the timeout and forced the Lions into a field goal attempt with 36 seconds remaining. So why didn’t they? As former NFL offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz pointed out, the Bucs had very clearly conceded.

By not using his timeout after the first kneeldown, Bowles was letting the Lions know he had conceded. Bowles even said after the game that Detroit already had a fairly easy field goal lined up, so he did not think using the timeout for the potential of getting the ball back with a few seconds left in the game was worthwhile.

The argument against Bowles’ decision is that the Bucs could have stopped the clock with around 10 seconds left on fourth down even if the Lions took a knee three times. That simplifies things way too much. Had the Bucs used their timeout after the Lions kneeled on first down, Detroit probably then would have kneeled again or run a couple of safe plays. Each play would have taken a few seconds, plus the Lions would have been able to use the full 40-second play clock each time.

Many fans wanted to crucify Bowles for not using the timeout, but there’s a good chance the Bucs would not have gotten the ball back even if he did. Dan Campbell was also questioned for having Goff kneel with so much time left when the Buccaneers still had a timeout, but it was understood that Bowles had conceded. The whole situation was completely overblown.

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