INDIANAPOLIS — Colts interim coach Jeff Saturday defended his clock management in the final minutes of Monday night’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, saying he decided against taking a timeout until 30 seconds remained because he “didn’t feel like time was really of the essence at that moment.”
The Colts, trailing by seven, were in a bit of a frantic situation, facing fourth-and-3 from the Pittsburgh 37-yard line at the two-minute warning. After converting, Indianapolis quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked for a 7-yard loss on first down then scrambled for 14 yards on second down.
The second-down play was snapped with 59 seconds remaining, but the Colts elected not to call a timeout despite possessing all three of their timeouts. They instead used a slow approach, snapping the ball late into the play clock then handing the ball to running back Jonathan Taylor, who was stopped for no gain on a third-and-3. The Colts finally called timeout after the Taylor run, with 30 seconds left.
With Saturday and playcaller Parks Frazier working just their third game in their new roles, it could be argued the Colts would have benefited from a reset in that circumstance, but Saturday said the staff already had the run play dialed up and liked its chances of success.
“I thought we had a good play,” he said. “And I felt like we would get it. Obviously, we didn’t do a great job [blocking] on the backside, so it’s worse. But I felt good about the call before. Felt like we had time, we would have timeouts afterwards. We were in striking distance. So, I never felt like the pressure of needing the timeout.
“We just didn’t execute it.”
Saturday seemed to suggest the Colts snapped the ball later than he desired on the third-down play, saying, “Would I have liked [Ryan] to snap it a little bit earlier? Sure. But, again, never felt pressed for time.”
It’s unclear whether there was a miscommunication between the staff and Ryan.
On fourth down, the Colts attempted a throw to well-covered Parris Campbell that was incomplete. The Steelers (4-7) took over on downs and ran out the clock to preserve a 24-17 win.
The Colts (4-7-1) are 1-2 since Saturday took the helm after Frank Reich’s firing last month.