The NFL’s Worst In-Game Coaching Decisions of the Past Decade

Welcome to Yahoo Sports' NFL

Welcome to Yahoo Sports’ NFL Week of Woe. (Henry Russell/Yahoo Sports)

Let’s face it: the entrenchment of sports teams can often be distressing. Only one can lift the trophy at the end of the year, and the drudgery of months to determine that champion is heartbreaking. It’s frustrating. It’s as fun as hell. With that in mind, welcome to Yahoo Sports’ “Week of Woe” in the NFL, where we take a look at some sliding doors that could have turned the championships into different hands. Next up: the worst coaching decisions in the game.

NFL coaches are fallible. Everybody makes mistakes. Just because someone is at the top of their game doesn’t mean they’re safe from making silly mistakes. In the last few years of football, there have been a handful of mind-numbing decisions that have made coaches look deadly and created a handful of internet moments. Here are six of the funniest and worst training decisions from this era of football.

Fake Colts punt against Patriots

The Colts had a play so bad that people Photoshopped the crying Jordan meme onto the play. In a 2015 game against the Patriots, the Colts looked like they were going to go for a fake punt…or something…and it resulted in one of the craziest plays in NFL history. With no blockers up front, the Colts broke the ball, under center, for punter Pat McAfee, who just got tackled for no yards by several Patriots defenders. And just like that, the Colts have been immortalized in the history of football madness.

Seahawks spoil the end of Super Bowl XLIX

One of the most infamous games in NFL history. Malcolm Butler intercepts Russell Wilson on the goal line, giving Tom Brady and Bill Belichick their fourth Super Bowl title together. It’s widely maligned as one of the worst decisions in NFL history because the Seahawks had Marshawn Lynch right there, but in reality the process wasn’t that bad. They just got the one result you can’t live with in this scenario.

It is assumed that the Seahawks would have scored had they given the ball to Lynch, but in case they doesn’t score. They would have been forced to call their final timeout and pitch twice more to close the game. They were hoping to score a touchdown and would have settled for an incomplete. It would have at least given them a third and a fourth and a goal with a timeout in their back pocket.

Instead, an interception. And nearly a decade of teasing to go along with it.

Nathaniel Hackett goes for a 64-yard field goal in his opener

No list dealing with this kind of subject can miss Nate Hackett’s first game with the Broncos – which really set the tone for his only season as the team’s head coach. It was the Broncos’ first game with Russell Wilson at quarterback and they were playing the Seahawks on “Monday Night Football.” On a fourth-and-five from midfield late in the game, Hackett could have given Wilson a chance to be a highly paid hero and lead a win against his former team.

No. Instead, Hackett decided to let Brandon McManus kick a 64-yard field goal on the road, which he missed. It’s not a shadow in McManus, it’s a tough kick for anyone. He was put in bad shape by his coach, and the Broncos-Hackett marriage immediately got off to a bad start.

Cowboys lose time with fake punt disaster in postseason

Remember when the Cowboys wasted valuable time in the fourth quarter of a playoff game by putting their punt team on the field on first down? Like they ran 40 seconds off the game putting their punt team on the field – on the first down? Then they needed 35 seconds late in the game to try and complete their comeback bid, but partially ran out of time as they lost 40 seconds in the fourth quarter putting their punt team on the field IN THE FIRST GAME? !

Never forget this monstrosity which featured one of the most peculiar rules in the NFL rulebook – if a player puts his hand on the ball in a way that suggests he is going to break the ball and start the game , this player cannot be replaced out of play. Here is a Twitter thread if you needed a step-by-step presentation of the absurdity of it all.

Dan Quinn goes for a field goal against the 49ers in 2015

Oh, the 2015 Falcons. What a team. All flash and flare, absolutely no real winner substance. In Dan Quinn’s first run with the Falcons, he made a glaring error kicking a field goal from the 1-yard line as he lost four points to the 49ers with three minutes left.

Hitting a field goal to still be one point behind and returning the ball to the other team is now a widely accepted mockery, but back then it was just a mistake that was ignored. The Falcons tagged the field, the 49ers recovered the ball one point and never returned the ball, quickly ending the game. Even missing the basket would have been better because at least the 49ers would have been backed up for a potential safety.

Position on the pitch matters, folks. Going for a touchdown is even more important when you need more than three points in critical time.

Mike McCarthy excites Peyton Manning on Monday Night Football

In terms of impact, this one isn’t as big as the others, but it did give us a great Manningcast moment in which Peyton Manning became extremely frustrated with McCarthy’s reluctance to call a timeout in order to run a play before halftime in a game against the Eagles.

“Call a time out, Mike!” with Peyton frantically doing the timing motion with her hands is good enough to land on this list.

Previously on ‘Week of Woe’

Those who escaped for the 32 NFL teams

Leave a Comment