KANSAS CITY -- Coach Rob Chudzinski did not go with “chalk” when he used his timeouts in the Cleveland Browns 23-17 loss to the Chiefs.
The Browns trailed by three when Davone Bess fumbled a punt return with 7:02 left. After a first down, Chudzinski took the team’s last two timeouts (the first was burned early) after second and third down, with 4:17 and 4:10 left.
Conventional wisdom would have him saving the timeouts for when the Browns had the ball. He didn’t.
“I thought that gave us the best chance to get the ball back with plenty of time,” he said. “Extending the game, I thought, was the right decision. Otherwise you’re letting 40 seconds burn off the clock, and you’re down to the two-minute mark.”
His decision was based on sound logic.
Chudzinski’s way meant the Browns got the ball back with 3:55 left, but they had no timeouts. The Browns got one first down, but came up short on the next fourth down, which effectively ended the game.
Had Chudzinski not used his timeouts, the Browns would have gotten the ball back with about 2:30 left with two timeouts and the two-minute warning. Had they run three quick plays and not made a first down, they could have punted -- conceivably before the two minute warning -- and stopped the clock. Had they had success, they would have had the ball in decent field position with timeouts left.
It’s almost the same choice: either take the ball with time, or take it with less time and timeouts.
“With around four minutes left gives us more options in what we can do, between making some personnel moves to the kind of plays you’re running … ” Chudzinski said.
That it didn’t work does not make the decision wrong.