The Denver Broncos lost their season opener against the Tennessee Titans on Monday by just two points. The entire game came down to a drive by the Titans in the final minutes, and a Stephen Gostkowski field goal with 17 seconds left gave the Titans a 16-14 win.
Despite the Broncos’ meager one-point lead hanging in the balance over the final two minutes of the game while the Titans determinedly drove the ball downfield and ran out the clock, coach Vic Fangio didn’t use a single timeout until there were just two seconds left in the game. He still had two timeouts in his pocket when the game ended.
That’s just hideous clock management, plain and simple. But after the game, Fangio insisted there were good reasons he didn’t use those timeouts.
Fangio insists there were reasons
Following the game, Fangio defended his decision to let the Titans run down the clock in the final two minutes instead of calling any of his three timeouts.
“It was two-fold. One, their field goal kicker had obviously been having his problems. I didn’t want to extend the drive so they could get closer,” Fangio said, via the AP. “No. 2, we would’ve used the timeout, but we got the running back out of bounds. We would’ve used the second timeout, but they threw an incompletion, which would’ve given us one left when we got the ball back. That was part of our thinking there.”
Fangio is technically correct, especially because Titans kicker Steve Gostkowski had missed three field goals and an extra point during the game. But the plays he’s talking about happened in the final 30 seconds of the game, just before the go-ahead field goal. That ignores the previous 90 seconds in which the Titans had been lazily running out the clock. He could have used either of his two timeouts in that span.
While using those timeouts may not have led to a Broncos win, it would have changed the conversation. At least we wouldn’t be talking about how Fangio didn’t use one of his most important tools as a coach while the opposing team took its sweet time setting up a game-winning field goal. But even using those timeouts can’t change the conversation around this eye-popping stat.
After last night's 16-14 loss, the Broncos have now lost 4 games under Vic Fangio where they held a lead with 30 seconds remaining in regulation.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 15, 2020
The Lions are the only other team since the start of last season with multiple losses in those situations (2). pic.twitter.com/KYiN9tIfnA
Fangio rightly roasted for clock management
Fangio’s reasons for not using his timeouts mostly seem like poor excuses engineered to justify his truly terrible clock management. Viewers and analysts agreed, and with one mighty voice they roasted Fangio on Twitter until he was burnt to a crisp.
Vic Fangio with his timeouts. pic.twitter.com/6QEUQg4xvg— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) September 15, 2020
Vic Fangio taking two TO’s to the locker room. Are those worth something I don’t know about?— Randy Mueller (@RandyMueller_) September 15, 2020
Vic Fangio has been in this league for 35 years and that was some of the worst clock management in league history. The Broncos leave the field with two timeouts remaining, the timeouts he should have used when Tennessee was running down the clock. Sorry but that's inexcusable.— Cedric Golden (@CedGolden) September 15, 2020
What in the world is Vic Fangio doing???? Hey GUY, you can't use them next week— Joel Klatt (@joelklatt) September 15, 2020
Does Fangio know that he is the head coach????? Nice job FRIEND, you saved all 3 TO's for the last :17— Joel Klatt (@joelklatt) September 15, 2020
Can anyone tell me why Fangio didn’t use those 3 timeouts? He knows they don’t carry over until next gm. 🤦🏾♂️🤦🏾♂️🤦🏾♂️— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) September 15, 2020
Many of us grew up knowing how to manage a clock because we've played Madden all of our life. I'm confident Vic Fangio has never heard of Madden— Kevin Turner (@ktfuntweets) September 15, 2020
Vic Fangio trying to take those timeouts into Week 2... pic.twitter.com/lScFAPETje— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) September 15, 2020
Vic Fangio has worse clock management skills than pre-2019 Andy Reid.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 15, 2020
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