Andy Reid‘s magnum opus
Andy Reid did everything short of putting on a jersey and cleats to help the Chiefs win this week. One play perfectly encapsulates how consequential Reid’s play-calling was in this game.
It was 4th-and-1 on the KC 48. There’s 1:14 left in the game with the Chiefs up by 5. A punt—the decision I was certain Reid would make—would give the Browns the ball with no timeouts, likely deep in their own territory. We know Reid didn’t punt. But the brilliance of Reid’s decision to go for it goes beyond the aggressiveness of the choice.
Keep in mind the Chiefs have a timeout to burn at this point. Reid sends the offense out onto the field, works in a lot of motion pre-snap. Now, seasoned football watchers (including Tony Romo!) assumed that Reid was simply trying to draw the Browns offsides, before either taking the delay of game penalty, or calling a timeout before punting. The attempt to lure the Browns offsides makes a ton of sense since the Chiefs risk nothing (even a delay of game wouldn’t matter as they’d just punt) in what is essentially a free chance at ending the game, if the Browns jump.
That was the expected play. And it’s a smart play. We see it all the time, in fact. Teams will run a sort of “phony play” trying to bait the defense before calling a timeout and punting the ball.
Reid reverse engineered these expectations. With a couple seconds left in the play clock, the ball gets snapped to Henne, who rolls out to the right and hits Tyreek Hill for the game-winning conversion.
The genius of this play cannot be understated. By running a play, Reid flipped convention. Heck, Reid body-slammed convention. It wasn’t a kind of Hail Mary, one-in-a-million play that happened to work, though. It was simply the payoff of sharply-tuned strategy.
This is what good coaching can do. Reid took a kind of staple play, took it apart piece-by-piece, sprinkled in a little psychology, and won the game behind the legs of a journeyman backup. The result? An AFC Championship berth at Arrowhead.
You just never see this stuff.