Written By, Clifford Santa Monica

Now everybody (including me) is going to jump all over Newton once again for his failings in the ball security department—this time for coughing up the football after he (would have) gained a critical, game winning first down on a designed run. He didn’t wrap the ball up while he was fighting for extra yardage, coughed it up, and his team ultimately paid the price for it. But here’s what almost every TV sports commentator in America will overlook tomorrow morning when they’re primping in front of the cameras for ESPN, or FOX, or wherever: After an O-lineman for the Panthers fell on the fumbled ball, Carolina was only the length of a football from getting a first down following the official’s spot. THAT’S LESS THAN HALF-A-YARD; 11.5 inches to be exact—though the Panthers were at midfield at the time. If I’m the coach of that club and I’ve got five 330 POUND piano movers up front plus TWO tight ends, a full back and both wide outs I have to think I can move the football one foot. Traditionalists will say NO, you have to kick the ball away and let your defense protect the (one point) lead. But the Panthers had already given up 27 points and, in my mind, didn’t figure to hold the home team off in a noisy stadium under enormous pressure.


I think the odds were better of the Panthers moving the chains 12 inches on fourth down and then running out the clock to seal the victory than Carolina surviving the no-huddle “Matty Ice” figured to throw at them and then keep the Falcons out of field goal range—even with no time outs remaining. In today’s NFL, the team who has the ball last generally winsYou think I’m nuts? Just ask Ron Rivera how well things worked by taking the chicken’s way out…He lost anyway…


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