Last night the Kansas City Chiefs nearly upset the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football, but their bid for the win ended when a Tyler Palko pass intended for Dwayne Bowe was intercepted.
At first it looked like just another poor pass from Palko (he had lots of those last night) that sailed far to Bowe’s left. While upon further review that was indeed true, Bowe never lifted his arms in an attempt to grab the ball. In fact, he almost seemed to pull his arms in and away from the ball, drawing heavy criticism from NBC color-man and former Bengals WR Chris Collinsworth.
Collinsworth railed on Bowe for not giving enough effort by stretching out his arms to at least try to make the catch. Since it was first down, the thinking seemed to be that even a tip by Bowe could have deflected the ball away from the Pittsburgh defender.
While reviewing the play, it initially looks bad on Bowe’s part. Regardless of how poorly the ball was thrown, it is in our nature to want to see these athletes giving everything they have to make a play. We’re accustomed to seeing players duck, dive and give maximum effort. To see a receiver pull his arms away from a ball in any circumstances just looks weird.
While it may have looked bad, however, don’t believe for a minute that Bowe was being lazy or that he gave up on the play. Collinsworth’s suspicions, while perhaps valid based on how the play looked, were not well thought out and they were not fair to Bowe.
The replay, and Tyler Palko’s reaction after the play, show there was obvious confusion on the play. Upon starting on his route, Bowe threw his hand up in the air, perhaps suggesting that he was going deep. Palko seemed to see this and let the ball fly. At the last second, however, Bowe cut in toward the middle of the field, away from the ball’s projected path. Bowe jumped because the ball was high but his momentum was carrying him away from the ball. Had he stuck out his hand, it isn’t likely he would have even come within an inch of laying a finger on it.
Even if Bowe had gotten a finger on the ball, there is no guarantee the outcome would not have been the same. Tyler Palko had two tipped balls that ended up being intercepted against the Patriots. In fact, balls tipped by receivers are often intercepted.
We also have to ask ourselves what was going through Bowe’s head when he decided to pull his arms in, instead of extending for the ball. It might have been that Bowe did not thing the ball was intended for him. After all, the ball was so far off line, it isn’t outrageous to consider that for a moment Bowe may have thought the ball was intended for one of his teammates in the back of the end zone. In fact, his rapidly pulling his arms in seems to almost back that up. It didn’t looks like a lazy act of disgust on the part of Bowe. It looked like the receiver saw the ball, initially intended to reach for it but then quickly changed his mind.
What was especially ridiculous was how quickly Collinsworth forgot about every other positive word he had said about Bowe throughout the course of the game. Bowe had an excellent game Sunday, not just catching the ball but also blocking. In fact, Collinsworth commended Bowe on multiple occasions for his toughness and effort blocking downfield for his teammates. Yet all those compliments went out the window when Collinsworth allowed himself to have a knee-jerk reaction to Bowe’s action on the interception.
Throwing another log on the fire, as they are want to do, were the folks at Pro Football Talk.
“We doubt Bowe will wind up back with the Chiefs next year because of plays like the one that ended Sunday night’s game.”
What a bunch of garbage.
For reasons I’ve never fully understood, some people have seemed to be obsessed with the idea that the Chiefs don’t want to bring Bowe back to Kansas City. This makes no sense. The Chiefs, in particular Haley, have invested a lot of time and effort into improving Dwayne Bowe’s performance both on and off the field. The team made it a priority this offseason to add to their barren WR core by drafting Jonathan Baldwin and Steve Breaston. I believe these moves were made to compliment Bowe, not replace him.
As Collinsworth noted throughout the game, Bowe is making an impact for the Chiefs in more than just the passing game. His effort in blocking for his teammates, as well as his obvious love for the spotlight, make it absolutely impossible for me to believe that Bowe would just give up on a pass, in the 4th quarter in a moment where a big catch would make him a hero.
If you want to criticize Bowe for perhaps running the wrong route, that is fine. If you want to criticize him for dropping a potential TD pass earlier in the game, go for it. Those criticisms are fair.
But don’t criticize the kid for his effort on a play where it appeared no one, not even the QB and the receiver himself, knew what the hell was going on.
Dwayne Bow is a lot of things, but a quitter when the ball is in the air, he is not.