Sean McVay may have an encyclopedic memory.
But game management is still a bugaboo for the Super Bowl-winning coach.
McVay made some questionable decisions that did not work out in the Rams’ 24-23 road loss to the Lions in the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs Sunday night.
Opting to punt on fourth-and-14 at the Lions’ 44-yard line with a little more than four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter backfired when the Rams never got the ball back.
“Still having a timeout and four minutes, the way our defense was playing, we were hoping to get a stop,” McVay told reporters after the game of his decision to punt.
“Hindsight is 20/20. Certainly regret that decision now.”
McVay is one of the brightest offensive minds in the sport and did a fantastic job to get the Rams to the playoffs, but his in-game strategy has been questioned at times during his tenure.
Those little details especially matter in close games late in the fourth quarter, and McVay did not help himself by using two timeouts earlier in the half.
That left the Rams with one timeout when they drove to the Lions’ 34-yard line with less than five minutes left in the game, before a holding call backed them up 10 yards.
An incomplete pass then put the Rams in a tough spot, having to choose among: going for it on 4th-and-14, attempting a 62-yard field goal or punting and trying to get a stop.
The surrender index rated the punt as cowardly.
“LAR decided to punt to DET from the DET 44 on 4th & 14 with 4:15 remaining in the 4th while losing 23 to 24,” the tweet from the Surrender Index said.
“With a Surrender Index of 29.05, this punt ranks at the 99.2nd percentile of cowardly punts of the 2023 season, and the 98th percentile of all punts since 1999.”
McVay also did not call a timeout before the two-minute warning, instead using it on the other side of the two-minute warning, which prevented the Rams from getting the ball back.
The Rams, in theory, could have gotten the ball back with less than 30 seconds and likely pinned deep in their own end, although the Lions then would have been more aggressive with their play-calling coming out of the two-minute warning.