Show a little faith in Smith

Bill's Rants

December 18, 2007|By BILL ORDINE

I admit that I'm not enormously outraged that Ravens coach Brian Billick didn't go for the touchdown at the end of regulation Sunday, but I thought the decision - as well as a specific instance of play-calling in overtime - showed a disappointing lack of confidence in his offense and rookie quarterback Troy Smith.

Remember, Smith had just engineered a 59-yard drive to take the ball down to the Dolphins' 1-yard line, squeezing in 10 offensive snaps in 1 minute, 44 seconds with no timeouts. That was a "wow" performance.

Granted, it was fourth down and, as Billick said, it was all or nothing. But to give up on the touchdown and go for the field goal was to have the game ride largely on the outcome of the overtime coin flip. Win the flip, go on a short drive, kick the winning field goal. That's a typical scenario (and should have been again Sunday).

But Billick was more willing to risk that happening against his team than to have his offense try to punch the ball in just inches from victory.

Well, the Ravens got lucky and won the flip to start OT. After another drive - mostly on running plays - and with the ball at the Miami 27-yard line on third-and-12, the Ravens ran one last time. Smith was not allowed to try a pass to make the field goal attempt shorter for Matt Stover. The run gained 1 yard and Stover missed the 44-yarder.

Now, there's an argument that perhaps you figure the Dolphins are anticipating a pass on third-and-long and there's soft rushing yardage available. Obviously, there wasn't. Too bad Smith didn't have that shot to prove himself further.

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