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#pounditThursday, February 9, 2023

Jeff Saturday explains why he did not use his timeouts

Jeff Saturday with a headset on

Indianapolis Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday walks the sideline Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Photo Credit: Jenna Watson/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Jeff Saturday used some questionable clock management at the end of his Indianapolis Colts’ 24-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on “Monday Night Football” in Week 12 and tried to explain his thinking.

The Colts began their final possession at their 7 with just under four minutes left, needing a touchdown to have a chance at winning or tying the game. They crossed midfield with just under three minutes to go and ended up in a 4th-and-3 at the 37 at the 2-minute warning. The Colts converted, but that’s when things went badly.

The clock was running after the conversion. Matt Ryan was sacked on first down, keeping the clock running. Then Ryan scrambled for 14 yards on 2nd-and-17, and the Colts still declined to call timeout. By the time they lined up for their 3rd-and-3 play, there were only 34 seconds left. Jonathan Taylor was stopped for no gain, and then Indy finally called timeout with 30 seconds left. They used up a minute and a half on three plays before calling a timeout.

Indy failed to convert on 4th-and-3, which ended their comeback chances.

Why didn’t Saturday use more of his timeouts? He explained after the game that he didn’t feel it was necessary to conserve time.

“I didn’t feel like time was really of the essence at the moment,” Saturday said. “I felt like we had time, we would have time afterwards, we were in striking distance afterwards.”

Here’s the biggest reason why Saturday should or should not have called a timeout: did he feel it was advantageous to his offense not to slow the pace and give the Steelers a breather? If he thought not giving Pittsburgh time to prepare was to Indy’s advantage, then the decision not to use the timeouts was wise. But if he thought his offense needed time to prepare its plays, then that would have been a reason to call timeouts.

The timeouts didn’t seem like the reason the Colts failed on that drive. The Colts’ offense not being good enough to execute a 93-yard touchdown drive in any situation is the reason they failed on that drive. To me, the no-timeout strategy actually helped Matt Ryan pick up the 14 yards on the scramble. I don’t think setting up plays would have helped; their quarterback play stinks, that’s the problem.

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