Redskins Coach Jay Gruden says he wouldn’t change in hindsight how he handled the game clock during the final minute of Monday night’s 29-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Down 20-17 late in the fourth quarter, the Redskins faced a third and two at the 22-yard line. Gruden burned his first timeout with 57 seconds left in the game. He stopped the clock with 27 seconds left on the play clock, rather than waiting until it nearly expired. That would have allowed the game clock to run down to 32 seconds had Gruden called timeout with two seconds left on the play clock.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins and wide receiver Josh Doctson couldn’t connect on a third-down touchdown pass, and Washington settled for a 40-yard field goal to tie the game with 47 seconds remaining.
It was enough time for the Chiefs, who had two timeouts, to win the game in regulation at Arrowhead Stadium. On the ensuing possession, Kansas City went on a six-play, 50-yard drive to set up rookie place-kicker Harrison Butker’s game-winning 43-yard field goal with four seconds left.
When asked during Tuesday’s conference call whether he would’ve approached the situation differently in retrospect, Gruden said, “I don’t think so.”
“I let a couple of seconds go to try to drain just a little bit, but we had a play where we had a couple shots in the end zone with Josh and obviously Jordan Reed,” Gruden said. “But also, if they played zone, we had two shorter routes — one to Jamison [Crowder] and one to Terrelle Pryor — and of course our back out of the backfield [Chris Thompson]. Had we completed one of those, the clock’s going to be running, we needed time. I wanted to make sure we had enough time to score if we did get the first down.”
Washington’s defense got off to a strong start against a dangerous Chiefs offense, but it struggled to maintain that level of play as it battled through injuries, mental errors and communication issues. Still, Gruden had an expectation that the defense could get a stop and force overtime during the final 47 seconds. But it didn’t.
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith started the drive 3 for 3 for 51 yards, including a 37-yard connection with wide receiver Albert Wilson that placed Kansas City inside Redskins territory on the second play of the drive. Four plays later, Butker drilled the third, and most significant, kick in his NFL debut.
“I mean, obviously hindsight, but even if we did kick the field goal there and left the Chiefs only 45 seconds or so, we expect our defense to make a play,” Gruden said. “Alex Smith made a great play off-schedule and completed a long one to get them in field goal range. I wanted to make sure I had enough time where we weren’t in panic mode if we did get the first down at the 20-yard line and only have one timeout left. I wanted make sure we had ample time to score.”
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