I originally posted this commentary as a status update on my Wall. I thought the post merited rescue from the certain doom of Facebook obscurity, so I added it to Facebook Notes on 25 November 2013.
DAMN, WHAT A PLAY!
by Matt Wallace
This page was last modified on 26 November 2013.
Hmm, speaking as non-football fan, Cam Newton booster, and, most importantly, hater of Carolina Panthers fans because they're arguably the stupidest pro football fans in the country, I seem to recall a lot of chatter from the "fans" of the 1-3 Panthers wanting Rivera fired and dissing my man Cam...
What kind of a coach down 13-16 with less than 3 minutes goes for the 1st down on 4th and 10 on his own 20-yard line . . . oh, maybe a strategically-minded, gutsy coach who has some idea what he's doing and trusts his players to execute.
Worst case: Panthers defense gives up TD; last possession is moot; Panthers lose (13-22 or 13-23); an L is an L.
Worse case: Panthers defense forces FG; Panthers get last possession; final drive fails; Panthers lose (13-19); an L is an L.
Neutral case: Panthers defense prevents score, Panthers get last possession, FG forces OT (16-16).
Better case: Panthers defense forces FG or prevents score; Panthers get last possession; TD forces OT (19-19) and PA wins the game (20-19) or TD wins the game (19-16 or 20-16).
Best case: Panthers convert and continue drive; TD takes lead (19-16) and PA (20-16) leaves opponent with only one way to win and no time to make it happen.
Of course, if the conversion had failed and the Panthers had lost, dumb-ass Panthers fans would be second-guessing Coach Rivera as if they knew anything at all about winning a football game. And had the conversion failed, Rivera still would have made the right call because it was the Panthers' best, perhaps only, chance to win.
Given that the Panthers have a most delightful knack for finding a way to lose, and most haplessly at that, I rather enjoyed watching them aggressively and intelligently play to win for a change. So much so that I probably would have refrained from my usual schadenfreude over a Panthers loss and still marvelled at the audacity of the play.
Fortune favors the bold!