Every NFL game has a pivot-point, a fulcrum that swings momentum from one side to the other leading to eventual victory for the lucky recipient. Finding that “teeter” to the “totter” can be a bit confusing, if not misleading, clouded by obligatory highlights and pundit analysis coming at you from all directions.
That tipping of the field one direction or the other doesn’t necessarily come in the 1st quarter, nor in the 4th. The swing of a game can come at any time and at any moment as a result of a combination of a number of factors that relate to the outcome; whether 2nd and 3 from your own 43 in the 3rd (down by 7) or 1st and 10 on your opponent’s 15 in the 2nd (up by 3).
So with the 2012 NFL Preseason upon us it might be a good time to start evaluating games in a manner worthy of The Football Educator’s sophisticated fans and not in the manner of 4 former players, a retired head coach and some ten year “talking head”.
Indianapolis 38 – St. Louis 3
Facing 3rd and 9 from the INDY 43, Ram QB Sam Bradford dumped the ball off to RB Steven Jackson who was tackled short of the 1st down (gain of 6) by Colts DT Drake Nevis and LB Jerrell Freeman. St. Louis took an early preseason shot on 4th down and Bradford’s pass fell incomplete to Danny Amendola. Andrew Luck then gave Colt fans an immediate look at the future – a 63 yard TD pass to RB Donald Brown on his first play as a Pro.
Washington 7 – Buffalo 6
3rd and 12 on the WAS 45, Bills backup QB and veteran Vince Young is sacked by LB Bryan Kehl for a twelve yard loss, and Buffalo’s Chan Gailey chooses to punt and put the game on his defense to get the ball back. The Redskins take over with 2:15 and are able to convert two first downs to run out the clock.
Baltimore 31 – Atlanta 17
With the score tied late in the 3rd quarter and facing 3rd & 6, Falcon QB John Parker Wilson passes to WR D.J. Davis who’s pushed out of bounds 3 yards short of the conversion. Atlanta punts and the Ravens go 80 yards in 5 plays to break the tie and take charge of the game.
Cincinnati 17 – New York Jets 6
Trying to run out the clock prior to halftime (score tied 3-3) the Jets look at 3rd and 5 from their own 9 yard line. RB Bilal Powell runs left for 4 yards (note Offensive RUN SUCCESS RATE) and is stopped short of moving the chains by a yard. T.J.Conley’s punt is blocked by the Bengals LB Dan Skuta and recovered for a TD by Cedric Peerman. Cinci goes into the half up 10-3 and the Jets do very little in the 2nd half offensively.
San Francisco 17 – Minnesota 6
Perhaps what was the Vikings drive of the game (albeit in the 1st half), QB Christian Ponder takes Minnesota from their own 24 to the San Francisco 8 in 11 plays. But on 3rd and 6 Ponder’s pass falls incomplete to Michael Jenkins. The Vikings convert a 26 yard FG to pull within 7-6. On the 49ers ensuing drive (two plays in) QB Colin Kaepernick takes off running for 78 yards and a TD. 49ers lead 14-6.
Pivot points, fulcrums, tippings and swings…. Every game is going to have one, as a General Manager it’s up to you to help create it or help stop it.
The questions is “How do you do that?”