Below is a clock management analysis of the Super Bowl I did during the game. After the game, I filled in the precise details from the NFL play-by-play of the game which you can see at NFL.com.
The plays in this play by play have the most recent at the top. I recommend that you start reading at half time because first half clock management did not appear to be decisive in this game. In some games, first half clock management decides the winner.
Total time left on the clock unnecessarily in the second half by NE was about 9+10+11+2+14+10+3+7+12+1+11+4+13+2+10+15+12+4+3+7+3=163 seconds or 2:43. Had the Patriots managed the clock in accordance with my clock management rules, the game would have ended about 2:43 sooner, in other words right when New England scored their final go-ahead touchdown. Dramatic come-from-behind victory and historic 19-0 season. All they had to do was the exact same things plus wait to snap the ball until the end of the play clock or to the pace graph indicated snap time and stay in bounds. Read the analysis below and weep, New England fans. NY fans, read it and be relieved—and tell Coughlin and Eli Manning to learn how to manage the clock before they end up on the wrong end of the next close game.
down & distance
game clock at snap
Reed clock comment
pertinent Reed clock management rule
This game is an excellent example of a game where the loser would have won had everything been exactly the same except for NE complying with the clock management rules in my book—indeed—one rule, i.e., wait until the end of the play clock to snap the ball when you are ahead
Am I saying there were not other factors like NE not protecting Brady or the Giants being more intense? No. I am just saying that NE would have overcome those factors and won if they had only managed the clock correctly.
|NE 16||4-10||:10||Need a first down to run at least two plays—don’t need to score unless fail to get 1st—also, only need field goal range, not TD—inc.|
|NE 16||3-10||:19||inc. 2nd timeout|
|NE 26||2-10||:25||sack—NE 1st timeout|
|NE||NE 26||1-10||:29||max hurry-up—inc.|
|NE 13||1-10||:39||TD NY 17-14—remember all the times I said NE sapped the ball “too soon” in the second half (I’ll put them in red to help you find them)—if they added up to :39—and they did—that snapping too soon cost NE the game and the undefeated season—but what do I know compared to the great Belichick?|
|NE 25||3-11||:45||receiver gets out of bounds to stop the clock—good job|
|NE 25||1-10||:59||sack of Manning—final timeout NY|
|3-5||1:15||complete after escape from sack timeout NY—NE now in take-a-knee if they get a takeaway, so slide as soon an you intercept|
|NY 39||1-10||1:28||sack—timeout called by NY during scramble for fumble|
|NY 28||3-10||1:59||NE still must get at least one first down if they get the ball back—Toomer could have rolled for the first down but stayed motionless|
|NY 28||2-10||2:04||inc. 2-min warning|
|NY 28||1-10||2:09||too slow|
|NY||NY 17||1-10||2:39||NY needs to be on the pace graph—almost a max hurry-up—they should snap with :33 left on the play clock if the officials will permit—they have to wait for the ready-to-play signal|
|The game would have ended here had the Patriots managed the clock correctly in the second half—mainly waiting until the end of the play clock to snap the ball and staying in bounds|
|NY 6||3-6||2:45||TD NE 14-10—NE now needs to go to a slow down like they should have if they ever get the ball back—2-min. warning coming up so do not use a timeout within :15 of that|
|NY 6||2-6||2:49||snapped at :04 too soon—inc.|
|NY 6||1-6||2:55||snapped at :08—too soon—should have run the clock down to :01—incomplete|
|NY 18||1-10||3:31||need to be in max slow down—got ahead of pace graph schedule—Prior play probably took :06. Total elapsed time was :42 which means NE snapped the ball with :04 left on the play clock. NY should probably start calling timeout after each play that does not stop the clock|
|NY 29||1-10||4:15||snap at :05 on play clock—too fast—at this combination of yards to go to score and time remaining, NE needs to go to a maximum slow down and snap at :01—incomplete|
|NY 39||2-6||5:01||snap at :08—excellent|
|NY 43||1-10||5:27||snap at :01 on play clock and out of bounds—should have snapped at :08—should not go out of bounds|
|NE 44||2-1||6:14||I cannot tell when the ball was snapped with regard to the play clock. Because of out of bounds on prior play, play clock was :25 instead of :40 and started at an unknown time. Still should have been allowed to run down to :08.|
|NE 35||1-10||6:39||out of bounds—should not stop clock in this situation but needed to do so to try to get 1st down|
|NE 25||2-5||7:19||Prior play probably took :06. Total elapsed time was :35 which means NE snapped the ball with :11 left on the play clock. Should have waited until :08|
|NE||NE 20||1-10||7:54||pace graph says snap with :08 left on the play clock—that has NE scoring and leaving no time for NY to come back|
|NY 38||4-1||8:02||snap for punt at :13 left on play clock—idiots!—should have let it run down to :01—like I said,what clock management practice there is in the NFL does not include punters and holders. It should.|
|NY 30||2-9||8:32||snap at :03 on play clock—probably right by accident—incomplete|
|NY||NY 29||1-10||9:20||should be on the pace graph to score on a schedule that leaves no time remaining—for that time and yards to go to score, they should be snapping the ball at :08 left on the play clock so as to score but leave no time on the game clock|
|NE 31||2-7||9:41||snapped around :05—slow down—maybe they’re on the pace graph—incomplete|
|NE 28||1-10||10:26||a bit slow to snap. Prior play probably took :06. Total elapsed time was :33 which means NE snapped the ball with :15 left on the play clock. They are supposed to be hurrying.|
|NE 5||2-3||11:10||snap at :03 too slow—TD NY10-7, they are now the favorite and need to switch to a slow down—or—in this case—stay in one; NE must hurry up from now on|
|NE 29||3-4||12:34||:04 on play clock—should be hurrying|
|NE 31||2-6||13:16||snapped at :02 on play clock They should be hurrying|
|NE 35||1-10||14:02||snap at :05 on play clock—that’s slow down—should be hurry|
|NE 46||3-15||:06||snap at :05 on play clock—too soon|
|NE 46||2-15||:14||incomplete pass|
|NY 49||2-10||:14||false start|
|NY 49||1-10||:17||Prior play probably took :06. Total elapsed time was :40 which means NE snapped the ball with :01 left on the play clock. Correct clock management Incomplete pass stops clock.|
|NE 32||1-10||1:03||snapped at :03 on play clock—too soon|
|NE 30||2-1||1:47||snapped too soon. Prior play probably took :06. Total elapsed time was :32 which means NE snapped the ball with :14 left on the play clock.|
|NE 21||1-10||2:19||snapped at :05 left on play clock—too soon—every second you leave on the clock unnecessarily may be the one the opponent uses to beat you—NE getting bananas to stop cramps—it’s pretzels, or more importantly their salt, that prevents cramps, not bananas—an Oklahoma U study found that about five years ago—how come I know that and Belichick who gets paid millions does not?|
|NE||NE 10||1-10||3:04||Score, but do it slowly—upcoming end of 1/4 constitutes a time out—false start|
|NE 41||3-6||3:18||snap at :06 left on play clock—more slow down when should be hurrying—incomplete pass stops clock|
|NE 45||1-10||4:09||too slow incomplete pass|
|NE 47||2-8||4:42||snapped at :03 on play clock—NY is running a slow down when they should be in a hurry-up|
|NE 45||1-10||5:27||too slow|
|NY 35||2-6||6:06||too slow39 seconds used on one play|
|NY||NY 31||1-10||6:43||NY need to be in hurry-up|
|NY 31||4-13||6:49||snapped too soon. Prior play probably took :06. Total elapsed time was :34 which means NE snapped the ball with :12 left on the play clock. incomplete—over on downs|
|NY 25||3-7||7:23||snap at :02 on play clock—correct—sack|
|NY 28||2-10||8:10||snapped too soon. Prior play probably took :05. Total elapsed time was :32 which means NE snapped the ball with :13 left on the play clock.|
|NY 28||1-10||8:42||snapped at :08 on play clock—too soon run for no gain|
|NY 42||3-13||9:26||snapped too soon. Prior play probably took :06. Total elapsed time was :42 which means NE snapped the ball with :04 left on the play clock.|
|NY 40||2-11||10:08||false start—then snapped too soon. Prior play probably took :06. Total elapsed time was :35 which means NE snapped the ball with :11 left on the play clock.|
|NY 44||4-2||11:07||Prior play probably took :06. Total elapsed time was :31 which means NE snapped the ball to the punter with :15 left on the play clock. Punters and holders are frequently not included in clock management training and practice. That is coaching malpractice. NE punted quickly—perhaps because a NY player was a 12th man on the field and NE wanted the penalty which would give NE a first down—smart clock management—unless the punter did not know anything about needing to hurry up because of the 12th man in which case it was stupid clock management|
|NY 47||3-5||11:38||snapped at end of play clock which is correct|
|NE 46||2-12||12:18||snapped too soon at :03 on play clock—almost correct. Should have waited until :01|
|NE 48||1-10||13:02||snapping too soon. Prior play probably took :06. Total elapsed time was :34 which means NE snapped the ball with :12 left on the play clock.|
snapped too soon. Prior play probably took :06. Total elapsed time was :35 which means NE snapped the ball with :11 left on the play clock. Incomplete pass stops clock.
|snapped too soon. Prior play probably took :07. Total elapsed time was :37 which means NE snapped the ball with :10 left on the 40-second play clock. NE needs to score but to do so slowly.|
Both teams lolli-gagged when they should have been hurrying. As was likely, that hurt the underdog: NY—they could have used the time they lolli-gagged away earlier in the half at the end of the half—they were a little off on the pace graph series—that’s when clock management should be at its most precise—I suspect their coaches would say,“What’s a pace graph?’ Timeout use during the pace-graph period were not too bad. NY only ran 24 plays in the first half. Normal would be around 30. Had they run a hurry-up as my clock rules said they should have, they would have run about 60 plays. They did not run out of downs at the end of the half. They ran out of time—after having wasted gobs of it during the first half.
For the second half, both teams need to knock off ignoring the clock so much. This is it. NE Should be in a slowdown and NY should be in a hurry-up. No huddling or letting any time run off the play clock before snapping. Get out of bounds for NY. As it stands, NY needs to maximize the number of plays in the game. I am not saying NE can sit on a four-point lead. Just that they need to score slowly in case they do not extend their lead.
|1.00, 1.10, 1.20(b)(1)|
|:05||NE timeout—meaningless clock wise because clock stopped by prior inc. pass play—incomplete Hail Mary—time runs out, which it would not have yet had NY hurried up earlier in the half—but what do I know compared to Tom Coughlin?|
|NY||1-10||:10||fumble to NY—Giants should try two TD plays—|
|1-10||:28||out of bounds pass—excellent clock management|
|3-4||1st down and NE call timeout—excellent clock management|
|2-20||:59||NE calls late timeout—bad clock management—might need the timeout to stop clock after future down in this half||4.00(b)|
|1-10||NE in hurry-up—NY stops calling timeouts|
|1-10||1:42||NY calls timeout after tackle for loss—good clock management if they assume they will get the ball back|
|NE||NE 10||1-10||1:47||Pace graph says NE must be in max hurry-up—incomplete||5.20 Pace Graph G|
|3-18||2:21||need to let clock run down to 2 minute warning—Manning called for snap at 2:01—dumb—bad clock management|
|3-4||snapped at :04 on the play clock-too soon—the seconds being left on the clock could enable NE to score before half—unnecessary—follow the pace graph|
|2-7||3:14||still need to be in max slowdown|
|snapped at :06 on play clock—too soon||5.20|
|NY||1-10||6:45||Should be in max slowdown according to pace graph so as to score without leaving any time on the clock|
|NE 23||Pace graph indicates NE should be snapping the ball with :08 left on the clock—could not tell what they were doing other than getting sacked|
|NE||1-10||8:36||Same deal: NE should follow my Pace Graph G (NFL TD)—this will have them time their snaps so as to score but leave no time on the clock before half||5.20|
|NY||1-10||9:51||This may be their last possession of the half (if the first quarter is any indication). If so, they should be following the pace graph on p.164 of my book. In fact, they fumbled and had to punt||1.10(a); 5.20|
|2||Maroney out of bounds—mistake—that temporarily stops the clock—NE should be in slow down—stay in bounds|
|3-5||12:04||play clock at :02 for snap—lolli-gagging to defeat (probably) interception|
|2-6||delay of game—what better proof that they are in a maximum slow down—incompetent clock management|
|2||14:20||37 seconds off the clock for one play—that’s max slow down|
|2-G||15:00||TD NE 7-3 NE is the favorite of the moment again—they now need to be in a slow-down and NY in a hurry-up|
|1-G||less than two possessions in the first quarter because both teams are in a max slow down|
|1-10||:37||complete slow down|
|3-3||2:39||play clock down to :02 before snap—slowdown—every :06 wasted eliminates one hurry-up play from the half—they waste about seven plays per snap by running at a slow-down pace|
|1-10||3:31||Seemed to snap near the end of the play clock—that’s a slow down|
|NE||1-10||4:52||no indication of clock use because stopped by inc.|
|6:12||FG NY 3-0 NY is now the favorite of the moment; NE should be in hurry-up in that they are more likely than NY to be trying to score before half; NY is more likely, at this point, to be willing to settle for taking a knee at the end of the half since they are ahead||1.10|
|2||12:06||ran play clock down to :01 That’s a slow down—opposite of what they should be doing. They are reducing the number of plays in the half. Most likely, that will reduce NY’s chances of winning.||1:20(b)(1) snap ASAP after ready-to-play signal|
|3-6||13:32||This is a slow-down pace—opposite of what they should be doing|
|NY||NY 23||1-10||14:55||1.00, 1.10|
John T. Reed’s Super Bowl clock management pre-game ‘show’
NY is the underdog. So they should be in a hurry-up starting with the first scrimmage play of the game when they are on offense. Correspondingly, NE should be in a slow-down. As the game unfolds, that could change.
For their last possession of the first half, each team should follow my pace graph (Chapter 7 of my book) which attempts to run all the time remaining off the clock during a drive that scores just before the horn.
Which team is the better clock manager? I don’t know. We’re about to find out. I would expect NE because their coach seems top-notch in general, but I do not recall seeing an order from him for my book. He does seem open to such ideas, however, as evidenced by his adoption of much of Dr. Romer’s study on fourth-down decisions.
Certain considerations other than increasing or decreasing the number of plays and possessions may override my clock-management rules. I will ignore them because I cannot know them in this case. The coaches will, if they wish, have to explain such things after the game. Also, they may be wrong. You have to quantify both the value of my clock rule and the value of the benefit they got from overriding the rule to calculate whether the override was correct.
I will no doubt make mistakes. How can the guy who wrote the book on clock management do that you may wonder? Technical answer: I am a book author. Every word in a book is gone over repeatedly and checked for correctness by me and proofreaders—typically a friend or relative of mine. A book takes about nine months to write part-time. To comment during a game, you have the same 40-second play clock as the coach. Daily reporters in electronic and newspapers, in contrast, have to get it right in hours. To do that, they assign multiple writers and editors to read the same story almost simultaneously. I do not have multiple editors. Therefore, I will make mistakes. Chill. I will correct them ASAP when I or someone else spots them.
Some may say that it’s easy for you authors to pontificate about the right way to do it when you have months to think about each play. But when you have to make the decision as fast as the coach, well, you’ll see.
Hey! I’ve coached fifteen teams. I am well aware of the chaos of the sideline. Indeed, I coached my kids’ youth teams, where they have the same play clock combined with players to whom you are saying things like, “Not yet, Sean. You’re on defense. This is offense.”
I also do not get paid millions and have an even bigger budget of people to help me manage the clock.