Posted on: December 12, 2011 12:50 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 12:53 pm

Monday Musings: Titans hurt by bad play calls

If the Titans don't make the playoffs, which they probably won't, they might want to look to two horrible play calls late in their loss to the Saints. Twice in the final four minutes, Titans coach Mike Munchak and his staff made questionable decisions. 

Trailing 22-17 with just over three minutes left, the Titans faced a third-and-1 from the New Orleans 24. Instead of running the football to get a first down, the Titans threw into the end zone but the pass was incomplete. On fourth down, they ran a sneak and Jake Locker was stuffed.

Why not get the first down on third down and go from there? Bad move. Then the Titans got the ball back again with a 1:34 when the Saints foolishly passed on third down and the ball was incomplete on their possession.

 After two passes moved the ball to a first down at the New Orleans 45 with 48 seconds left, the Titans ran Chris Johnson inside. Why? They had no timeouts and they hit two passes in a row. That might have been the dumbest play call I've seen in 10 years. Johnson didn't gain a thing, but more importantly the Titans lost 20 seconds. 

So after a 40-yard completion from Locker to Washington put the ball on the New Orleans 5, the Titans had just seven seconds, time for two plays. Locker's pass was batted down on first down and he was sacked on second. Game over. Two bad play calls, but the run to Johnson on the final drive was the worst.

I just can't see the logic. Even if he pops it for 10, it's not worth the time that would be lost. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

---- They will blame Tony Romo. That's inevitable.

Romo missed a wide-open Miles Austin with his Cowboys leading the Giants 34-29 Sunday night on a third-down play that would have iced the game. Was it a bad throw? A little bit. Was Austin's perfect? Probably not.

But here's my problem: Why not try and get a first down?

The Cowboys went for the kill shot and it ended up killing them.  Facing a third-and-5 at their own 25 with just 2:33 left in the game, the Cowboys tried to go deep to Austin. They had success with deep balls earlier in the quarter, but everything has to be just right to hit them.

The Giants had one time out and the 2-minute warning. A first down essentially ends the game. So why not a short pass to Jason Witten? I like aggressive play-calling, but this was a situation that called for something safer. A first down wins the game. You don't need the touchdown.

As it turns out, the Giants ended up driving 58 yards to a game-winning touchdown.

Blame Romo all you want. I put that on the play that was called.

---I mentioned to you two weeks ago in my CBSSports.com Power Rankings that I thought T.J. Yates would be better than just average. The rookie is showing us that now. He has led the Texans to back-to-back drives to win games in the fourth quarter, the first rookie since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to accomplish that feat. What makes his game-winning drive against the Bengals even more impressive is that he did it without Andre Johnson, who missed the game with an injury. The Texans won't be an easy out in the playoffs, because Yates doesn't act like a rookie.

----Strategy Denver Broncos need to use: Tell Tim Tebow the opening kickoff is actually the overtime toss. Tebow seems to do nothing for three quarters, but flourishes in the fourth. He was horrible for three quarters against the Bears, but somehow found a way to pull it out in the fourth. He made some good throws in the fourth quarter. Of course, it took the illogical to give him even a chance, including Marion Barber's dumb decision to run out of bounds in the final two minutes. If the Bears take three knees -- or three Tebows -- they probably win the game.

---Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris better hope his team plays well in the final three games. After jumping to a 14-0 lead, the Bucs looked lifeless against the Jaguars, losing 41-14. At 4-9, Morris is in big trouble. 

---Maurice Jones-Drew had four touchdowns for the Jaguars against the Bucs. He is having a huge season. Jones-Drew is a tough guy who never backs down. But the scary thing for him is that he's going to be beat up and broken down by the time the Jaguars get good. Call it the "Steven Jackson Syndrome." Jones-Drew is all they have on offense for now.

---We had six passers throw for over 300 yards Sunday. Five won and Romo lost to Eli Manning, who threw for 400 yards. We had nine players go over 100 yards rushing. They went 4-5. You tell me? What's the right way to play?

---So much for Hue Jackson as coach of the year. The Raiders have been horrible the past two weeks. It's more than them just missing all that speed in Darren McFadden Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore

---If Tony Sparano goes in Miami, shouldn't general manager Jeff Ireland go with him? But word is Ireland has become close to owner Stephen Ross. Ireland's reputation in Dallas was that of a guy who made sure he got close to Bill Parcells. Isn't that considered "ass-kissing?"

--Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is a beast. He had two sacks and blocked the potential tying field goal. I loved that kid coming out of South Florida. He was raw, and most scouts downgraded him for that. But he has special athletic ability. The scary thing is he's still learning to play the position. With his long arms and reach, he should take on this nickname: The Condor.

---Come on, Scott O'Brien. You really think Tom Brady needs you in his face? You know what looked like to me? It was a coach trying to make his bones. Some will see that as a plus for O'Brien, standing up to a great. I don’t.

----I hate seeing players injured, but if Matt Hasselbeck's calf injury allows the Titans to start Jake Locker it will be a good thing for the organization. The Titans aren't going to the playoffs, so playing Locker will be good for the long-term health of the franchise.

---Where was Bears defensive end Julius Peppers on the Broncos last two drives? Anywhere? 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com