On Sunday afternoon, a lifeless New York Giants offense was letting the clock run out before halftime, surely planning to hit the drawing board at the break thanks to a 14-7 deficit against the first-place Chicago Bears. And then an ill-timed Matt Nagy miscue happened.
Indeed, things were looking good for the Bears after Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks collected back-to-back sacks of Eli Manning, putting the Giants in a position to just run out the clock. And then Nagy called timeout with 17 seconds left, setting up the following events:
- (0:17 – 2nd qtr) – 22-yard Saquon Barkley rush
- (0:06 – 2nd qtr) – 9-yard Eli Manning pass to Rhett Ellison
- (0:00 – 2nd qtr) – 57-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas
So what was Nagy thinking?
Matt Nagy said he was hoping to go after the Giants with a punt block strategy after he called timeout toward the end of the first half. Took responsibility for the Giants getting the field goal.
— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) December 2, 2018
What was strange is that you could almost feel – in real-time – a turning point in the game. Not only did the field goal trim the Giants deficit to 14-10, it gave them the coveted opportunity to double-dip with a score with their last possession of the first half and first possession of the second half. From that point forward, the Giants played like a team possessed to up-end the Bears. They scored out of the gate in the second half and completed a momentum swing that needed a miracle simply to get to overtime.
Now, we don’t want to do too much Monday-morning quarterbacking (though more is coming), but here are the main issues with Nagy’s miscalculation: He allowed 23 seconds to go off the clock before calling timeout. In that situation, you have to either call it right away or don’t call it at all. That’s inexcusable. Had Nagy not called timeout, the play clock was at 10 seconds, the Giants were out of timeouts, and Eli Manning was standing with his hands on his hips in no position to make a play call. The likely scenario from that point forward would have been the Giants taking a knee with 7 seconds left in the half and running into the locker room. The worst-case scenario here would have been Barkley running for 22 yards, a play that took 11 seconds off the clock and would have given the Giants no time to even complete the fourth-down pass to Ellison that led to the long field goal try.
In short, Matt Nagy gifted the Giants three points, momentum, and most importantly, a new lease on football life.
It wasn’t the only reason the Bears lost – OF COURSE – but it proved to be a turning point at a pivotal point in a game the Bears had no business losing.