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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Clock management by Zimmer wasn’t as bad as you think

By Matthew Coller

The job as a head coach is to make decisions that give your team the best chance to win. Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer didn’t exactly do that with his clock management on Sunday when he failed to take more time off the clock when the Vikings were at goal line, but it shouldn’t have mattered. The Detroit Lions had to pull out a statistical miracle for the decision to haunt Zimmer – and they did.

If you missed it, the Vikings called timeout on 3rd-and-goal with 0:27 left on the clock. They had a timeout remaining when Rhett Ellison ran the ball into the end zone to give Minnesota a 16-13 lead. The timeout has been criticized because the Vikings could have run the clock lower and still had time for two plays if needed.

When we’re looking at this situation, here’s a good place to start:

Perspective on Matthew Stafford’s latest miracle: pic.twitter.com/EUfgO45XJw

— Chris Sprow (@SprowESPN) November 7, 2016

So the last 98 times that a team was in the situation that the Vikings put the Lions in, the leading team came out the winner.

We should grade decisions by the process not the result. If the process that Minnesota’s head coach set them up to have an incredibly high chance to win the game, it’s hard to say that his decision was egregious.

According to Pro Football Reference’s Win Probability Calculator, leaving 23 seconds for the Lions as opposed to 10 seconds only changed the Lions’ chances to win by about 2%. The calculator gave Detroit about an 11% chance to eventually win the game in Sunday’s actual scenario, but would have given it around a 9% probability with 0:10 on the clock.

Another thing: Teams were 29-for-129 on field goals attempted from beyond 58 yards since 1994 according to PFR’s game finder. It turns out that Lions kicker Matt Prater happens to have been 5-for-6 and owns the NFL’s longest field goal ever at 64 yards.

Some other things that had to fall perfectly into place: Jim Caldwell reportedly got the refs to give the Lions two seconds back on Minnesota’s final drive. They kicked with two seconds left. And, colleague Judd Zulgad points out that kicker Blair Walsh was probably supposed to kick the ball off to about the 5-yard line to kill clock on a return, but instead kicked it into the end zone.

So here’s what we end up with: Yes, Zimmer should have run the clock down more. But the difference between 0:23 and 0:15 or so is usually inconsequential because the leading team almost always wins. It was a mistake, but literally everything had to go perfectly in order for Detroit to win.

The post Clock management by Zimmer wasn’t as bad as you think appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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