Analysis: Todd Bowles using a timeout over a 10-second runoff was biggest coaching blunder in Week 9

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C.J. Stroud threw a game-winning touchdown pass with 6 seconds remaining on a play the Houston Texans shouldn’t have had time to make.

They had an opportunity for another play because Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles elected to use his final timeout instead of allowing a 10-second runoff after Mike Evans recovered a fumble at the Texans 14 with 49 seconds left. Baker Mayfield threw a go-ahead TD pass on the next play to give Tampa Bay a 37-33 lead.

That left Stroud 46 seconds — instead of 36 — to go 75 yards with two timeouts. The sensational rookie quarterback needed every bit of it on Sunday.

Stroud then found Dell in the back of the end zone to cap a record-setting day in which he threw for 470 yards and five TDs.

Bowles was not asked why he chose to waste his last timeout instead of burning 10 seconds off the clock before Tampa scored. He blamed the secondary for the loss.

“We didn’t play good fundamental (football) or technique and we busted something that’s everyday practice, and you can’t do that,” Bowles said. “If we did what we were supposed to do, we would have been fine playing zone (defense).”

Bowles is the same coach who played for overtime in a loss last year instead of letting Tom Brady attempt to drive for a win.

His poor decision in Tampa’s 39-37 loss to Houston was one of several questionable calls coaches made in Week 9.

Houston Texans QB C.J. Stroud (7) is pressured by Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Devin White (45) and DT Greg Gaines (96) during game, Nov. 5. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The Chiefs faced a third-and-1 at their own 19 with a 21-14 lead over the Dolphins and just 2:42 remaining in the first NFL game ever played in Frankfurt, Germany.

Instead of a run, a “tush push” or any version of a quarterback sneak, Patrick Mahomes dropped back to pass and threw the ball away under pressure. That stopped the clock without forcing the Dolphins to use a timeout.

Miami then started at its 25 after the punt. Raheem Mostert ran 25 yards and 19 yards on consecutive plays to get the Dolphins to the Chiefs 31 with 1:17 and two timeouts left. Miami had plenty of time to run Mostert again. Instead, coach Mike McDaniel called three straight passes.

Tua Tagovailoa threw three incompletions and fumbled the snap on fourth down to seal Miami’s loss.

“There’s a lot that falls squarely on my shoulders,” McDaniel said about the miscommunication on one of the incomplete passes on the final drive.

In the Cowboys-Eagles battle for first place in the NFC East, both coaches were aggressive on fourth down. Each team was 2 for 2 on fourth down in the first half and the Cowboys finished 3 for 5.

Nick Sirianni went for a fourth-and-1 from the Eagles 32 on Philadelphia’s opening possession. Jalen Hurts converted the “tush push.” On the same drive, the Eagles faced a fourth-and-3 at the Cowboys 27. Sirianni didn’t hesitate. Hurts completed a 15-yard pass to Dallas Goedert and Kenneth Gainwell ran in from the 12 on the next play.

“That’s just confidence in our guys, confidence in the play call,” Sirianni said, adding he talks to offensive coordinator Brian Johnson about those situations in advance. “You don’t make decisions in the spur of the moment. You know what’s coming. Now, things change during the game, but that’s just confidence in the guys and the play call that we have.”

The Cowboys converted a fourth-and-1 from the Eagles 33 one play before Dak Prescott threw a 4-yard TD pass. They converted another fourth-and-1 from their own 49 late in the second quarter, setting up a field goal.

Prescott sneaked for a yard on fourth-and-1 from the Eagles 15 in the fourth quarter but facing another fourth down from the 1, he threw to Luke Schoonmaker for no gain. The Cowboys trailed 28-17 with over 10 minutes left at the time. They still had enough time to kick a field goal in that spot.

They scored a TD on the ensuing possession to get to 28-23 but needed another TD after the 2-point conversion failed. They got the ball at their own 14 with 46 seconds left. Helped by 56 yards of penalties, the Cowboys reached the Eagles 6 before self-destructing.

“That’s how we want to play, we want to be aggressive, we want to attack the defense, and make sure we empty our bucket,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said of going for it on fourth down five times.

Coaching matters. Aggressive decisions work sometimes, backfire others. Those types of calls are easier to accept. Clock management blunders are inexcusable.



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