On the most controversial play of the Buffalo Bills’ 34-31 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins on Saturday, CBS analyst Trent Green punted.
Before Bills Coach Rex Ryan decided to punt the football on the Bills own 41-yard line on a fourth down and three yards to go with about 4 minutes left, play-by-play man Greg Gumbel noted the Bills would be eliminated with a tie.
You might have thought that Green would have immediately said something as the punting decision was made. Instead, he started describing the failed third down pass and said nothing then about a decision that may cost Ryan his job. It was even more odd to not say something immediately because Gumbel had cracked a few seconds before the punt that Ryan would even consider kicking a field goal from that distance to avoid a tie.
It is hard to imagine Dan Fouts, CBS’ second-team analyst, would have passed on instantly criticizing or supporting a decision Ryan told reporters he made because he trusted his (porous) defense.
Green's initial silence (if he ever said anything about the decision I missed it) suggested he didn't think punting in that situation was anything unusual, which in a way agreed with Ryan's post-game claim that that all coaches would have done the same thing.
The Bills never saw the ball again as the Dolphins drove from their own 15-yard line to a short game-winning field goal.
Up until he punted on the controversial decision, Green made some astute points in one of the more entertaining Bills games of the season.
Green added to the entertainment by repeatedly noting the Bills were lousy at tackling. He also was strong on clock management. And he did a nice job describing pass patterns.
He also showed that he was capable of being opinionated when he turned into Ryan’s agent as rumors of the coach being fired were addressed twice.
At the end of the game when Ryan’s defense had wasted quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s best game and close to 600 yards in offense, Green declared: “I have a hard time believing Rex isn't going to get another chance."
Bills fans might have had a hard time thinking this game was Exhibit A for bringing Rex back.
Still, Green gets credit for delivering a strong opinion, even if it disagreed with the sentiment of many Bills fans. Green made the case for Ryan, who might become the rare .500 coach fired after two seasons in which his team had to endure key injuries.
But Twitter wasn’t as kind as Green. HBO’s Bill Simmons jokingly tweeted that Rex had been signed by CBS, a sure sign that he joins the national experts that expect Ryan to be fired.
Taylor had a better chance of saving his Bills career than Ryan with his performance. It would have been nice if Green, who played in the NFL for 15 seasons and won a Super Bowl, had weighed in more on another debate involving the Bills -- whether Taylor is a quarterback worth keeping next season.
Gumbel had a strong game worthy of a first or second teamer. He gets excited on big plays, inserts some humor, identifies players correctly and gets Green to give opinions – except on the fourth down punt.
Sideline reporter Jamie Erdahl didn’t have much to do, but she was the indirect beneficiary of some humor. Gumbel noted that no one at New Era Field was happier to see the rain stop than the sideline reporter.
Here are some more highs and lows from the broadcast:
Clay Figures in Game: Gumbel was excited when Bills tight end Charles Clay caught the touchdown that gave Buffalo a 30-28 lead. He had had earlier mentioned Clay was so sociable that he hung around to have lunch with the CBS crew during the week.
Split Decision: CBS put Ryan’s timeout plea on a split screen next to the 55-yard game-tying Dolphin field goal by Andrew Franks to show that the Bills coach was too late to make the signal. However, CBS cameras caught Bills defensive back Corey White trying to call timeout well before the kick because Bills only had 10 men on the field. Gumbel and Green didn’t mention that. CBS also didn't mention that the Bills only had 10 men on the field when the Dolphins' Jay Ajayi broke a 57-yard run on the winning field goal drive.
Time Management: Green smartly noted that Taylor saved 40 seconds for Miami by running out of bounds on third down, which helped give the Dolphins time to get in position for the game-tying 55-yard field goal. “That is the worst thing he could have done,” said Green of going out of bounds.
Official Report: Green noted that the officials missed a “huge” pass interference call by Miami against Clay in the end zone that forced the Bills to kick a field goal when they needed a touchdown. “That is an easy pass interference call that is not made,” said Green. “Huge miss.” Green wasn’t as decisive on an earlier non-call on an obvious Miami pass interference.
Guest Tweet of the Day: Ex Bill Darryl Talley was giving up with the Dolphins ahead, 28-14, and running through the Bills defense: Talley spoke for many Bills fans when he tweeted: “I'm gettin in the shower. I can't watch anymore.”
Groundhog Day: Green noted he was “repeating over and over again" that the Bills were missing tackles.
Finger Pointing: After a McCoy touchdown run that drew comparisons to former Detroit Lions star Barry Sanders, Gumbel noted "Barry wouldn’t have pointed a finger" at a Miami player as he scored as McCoy had done. “No, he wouldn't have,” replied Green. They should have explained that Sanders wasn’t a showboat.
Good Timing Awards: Green talked of McCoy having Sanders’ vision before a touchdown and he mentioned that Taylor hadn’t completed a pass to a wide receiver just before he finally hit Watkins with a completion.
What’s in a Name? At halftime. CBS’ referred to the Bills Jerry Hughes as “Larry Hughes.” That has to hurt.
Sideline Shot: Bills great Jim Kelly was shown on the sidelines with his nephew Chad Kelly. I thought Chad might have been identified because a lot of his Mississippi games were carried on CBS. He wasn’t. They might have hurt, too.
Surely a Problem: Green noted Tyrod wasn’t sure of the play call before a Bills fourth-down run failed.
Stat of the Day: After a 45-yard touchdown run by Kenyan Drake, Gumbel noted that Drake had only 113 yards during the rest of the season.
All Touchdowns Are Beautiful: After Miami’s Ajayi scored a touchdown after almost being stopped for a loss, Gumbel declared: "That play started as ugly as it could."
He Who Hesitates Is Lost: Green tried to explain Rex's hesitation for trying to kick a field goal but missed one possibility: Dan Carpenter's inconsistency. You wonder if Rex doesn’t wish he had cut Carpenter last season after his two missed field goals cost the Bills the game and Ryan possibly his job. The Bills playoff hope ended as ugly as it could.