Wow. Just wow.
I mean, wow.
Remember a couple weeks ago on the Kubiak Konundrum when I said you can't truly love a team until it fully breaks your heart, and that maybe the Leinart injury on top of the Schaub injury was setting us up for the necessary playoff heartbreak? Who was I kidding?
I'm not sure if this team's regular season flair for disastrous debacles the last couple of years has sufficiently broken my heart or if my thesis was flawed to begin with. But as I watched the last furious minutes of our game, as I flipped quickly over to watch the Titans re-pay us the merest fraction of what they owe, as I listened and watched the players' celebrations back at Reliant over and over, I knew I couldn't love this team any more than I did then. Any more than I do now. No more heartbreak needed. Seriously, please. Let's just skip that part. Our NT might not have the necessary inertia to clog the middle, but perhaps this snowball's-chance-in-hell of a team has the momentum to roll all the way to Indy.
I hate to strike any chord of negativity after that gorgeously ugly display by the Texans, and I would give Kubiak vastly different marks if judging overall on the game. Still, here we're looking at game management, and it wasn't the best day for the battlin' aw-shuckser that we call coach:
1=terrible call, 2=negative, 3=neutral, 4=positive, and 5=outstanding.
4Q. 13:45 left. Down 19-10. Our ball on the Bengals' 32. 4th and 2.
Down two scores, with the ability to knock one off with a 49 yard field goal, Kubiak instead chose to go for it. Fumble-sack. Not good.
I know Neil Rackers had missed a 47 yarder and barely made a 46 yarder. I know both of those kicks might have hit the cross bar on a 49 yarder or barely made it (if the latter had been straight). I know if he missed the kick here, the Bengals would have excellent field position, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. If you can't trust your field goal kicker to get the distance on a 49 yarder, you need a new kicker. Period.
Even if you get the tough 4th and 2, you still have over thirty yards to go for a touchdown. Chances are you simply end up with a shorter field goal and more time off the clock.
Again, this was not a 50-plus yarder. This should have been well in any professional kicker's range. Though Rackers has by no means been automatic this season, I just don't see what Kubiak was thinking. The opportunity to make the game a one score affair was a monumental one that must be taken advantage of.
Of course, the way it unfolded with a spectacular failure, it can't get more than a 2 on our scale. I'm tempted to give it a 1. What say the people?
4Q. 11:50 left. Texans' ball on own 25. 1st and 10. Down 19-10.
After not seeing many game-changing challenges early in the season, there sure have been a bevy of them lately. Arian Foster fumbled quickly after receiving a short outlet pass from T.J. Yates. So quickly, in fact, that Kubiak would challenge the play. The Bengals then bungled the ball to the Texans' 2 yard line, where Eric Winston recovered it.
To these eyes, the play was a pretty obvious one to challenge. Those 23 yards backing us up into our own endzone could very well have ended the drive even though we received a new set of downs. This was most likely our last chance to put together the first of the two necessary point scoring drives. Furthermore, I'm still convinced by NFL rules that Foster did not make the proverbially nondescript "football move." He didn't even have time to turn and look the other way. None of which even begins to address whether he had control of the ball.
There are certainly some arguments against the challenge, which you can fire away at in the comments, but I can't imagine this decision garnering any worse than a 2 on our scale, which I give it since it failed, even if I disagree with the call.
Bonus time. 4Q. 2:43 left. Bengals; ball on the Bengals; 48.
Since there weren't a lot of Kubiak decisions to analyze, we'll look at the opposing coach for the second consecutive week. Namely, why in the world didn't Marvin Lewis challenge the spot when seemingly the entire Bengals team pushed Bernard Scott for what looked to be the first down? When looking at replays during the game, I didn't see one angle that made me think it wasn't a first down. I was holding my breath, hoping Lewis wouldn't challenge and trying to find a way to justify not giving the Bengals the first down If he did. I couldn't. At the least, with three timeouts, Lewis had very little to lose and literally the game to win by challenging. Head scratcher. Praise be to Durga.
So, that's all for this week. It's great when a win, check that a division clinching win, and the stored-up good faith of a seven game win streak help temper some questionable coaching decisions. If it weren't for the pull of obligation from our friend the Konundrum, we might not even be talking about it.
2: 1 play.
TBD: 1 play.
1: 1 play.
2: 8 plays.
3: 10 plays.
4: 11 plays.
5: 2 plays.