After sleeping on it, Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday now regrets the late-game decisions he made during Monday night’s 24-17 loss to the Steelers.
“I wish I had that third down back,” Saturday told reporters on Tuesday. “I wish I had called a timeout.”
With an opportunity to erase what had been a sloppy outing, the Colts had all three timeouts as they faced a seven-point deficit with 3:52 left in the game. The Matt Ryan-led offense got past midfield after starting out from their own 7-yard line but a head-scratching sequence soon followed after a 14-yard scramble by the quarterback with one minute to go.
Twenty-five seconds ticked off the clock as the Colts lined up for their next play despite the team having three timeouts remaining at the Steelers’ 26-yard line. Indianapolis finally snapped the ball with 34 seconds on the clock, but the running back draw they called went for no gain and left them finally calling a timeout facing a fourth-and-3. Ryan’s incompletion to Parris Campbell on the next play effectively ended the game, as the Colts, with two timeouts remaining, lost.
“I thought we had plenty of time, I wasn’t really concerned,” Saturday said Monday after the game. “We still had timeouts. I wasn’t too concerned.”
That sequence wasn’t the only opportunity for the Colts to save time with a timeout, either. Coming off the two-minute warning, the Colts converted on fourth-and-3 and kept the clock running. They elected to not call a timeout after Ryan was sacked for a seven-yard loss on the ensuing play.
While there’s no guarantee the Colts would’ve scored a touchdown to potentially tie the game, what-if questions rightfully followed the home loss. Apparently, they haunted Saturday overnight as well, backing off his original thoughts about that final drive.
Saturday, who was hired as interim HC despite having no experience as a head coach beyond the high school level, certainly felt the heat during and after that final sequence and realized it was necessary to own up to his bad decision.
“Listen, all my coaches, whether it was Tony (Dungy), Jim Caldwell, those guys were always very transparent with the team, whether it was public or not,” Saturday said on Tuesday. “I believe in that. Inside, I wanna make sure everybody feels that you own whatever portion is yours.”
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