Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel might have made the best decision of Week 6 when he had his team purposely take a penalty. It ended up saving the team just enough time to score a game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Props to the folks at the Titans sub-reddit for catching this.
The Titans trailed the Texans 30-29 and had just turned over the ball on a Ryan Tannehill interception. Houston had a 2nd and 1 at the Titans 25 yard line with 3:49 remaining on a running clock. The odds of converting one yard on second or third down is fairly high. However, if the Titans were penalized five yards, the clock would stop. It would save approximately 40 seconds and while it cost them the second down conversion, they were likely going to give it up anyway.
And so, Vrabel sent on an extra defender, putting 12 men on the field and setting up the penalty. This video shows cornerback Johnathan Joseph looking confused and Vrabel telling him everything is OK. He does a great sell job and gets the penalty.
Here is the sequence. It’s 2nd and 1. Odds of Houston converting either on this down or the next is astronomical. Joseph is confused looking to the sideline and Vrabel is telling him “it’s ok” and then does a sales job to make sure the ref sees it. https://t.co/ZFJzQJC5II pic.twitter.com/EWuOhk5J4U— Mike Herndon (@MikeMiracles) October 18, 2020
Houston went on to score, and after failing on the two-point conversion, led 36-29. The Titans got the ball back with 1:50 to go and scored with four seconds remaining after marching 76 yards. Had they not committed the 12 men on the field penalty, things change dramatically. Maybe they find a way to make up the yards in shorter time, maybe they don’t.
Regardless of what might have been, the Titans did what they needed to do and went on to win in overtime. Big props to Mike Vrabel for what appears to be some heads-up decision-making.