AP Analysis: Andy Reid's ice-the-kicker strategy backfired
Among the debatable calls in the NFL's Week 15, none backfired more than Andy Reid's attempt to ice an already frozen kicker at Arrowhead Stadium.
Ryan Succop's 53-yard try fell well short but served as a mulligan thanks to Reid's timeout, and Succop put plenty more boost and force into his do-over. It cleared the crossbar as time expired, giving the Titans a 19-17 win over the Chiefs that kept Tennessee in the playoff hunt and denied Kansas City its clincher.
Moreover, KC fell from the AFC's No. 2 seed to No. 5. If that's where it finishes, the Chiefs will have to hit the road in the wild-card round instead of getting the weekend off and preparing for a home game.
''Kind of backfired,'' Reid said sadly.
There were other notable decisions in Week 15, including league rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott's deciding to jump into an oversized Salvation Army red kettle after his short TD run in Dallas' 26-20 win over Tampa Bay.
One of the worst officiating calls of the year came in the Giants' 17-6 win over the Lions. Eli Manning's pass bounced off Odell Beckham Jr.'s left hand and rolled in between the receiver's legs before he reached back and secured it. Referee Tony Corrente's crew ruled it a completion on what ended up being a touchdown drive.
Other calls included an owner who didn't wait for his coach to fly back home to fire him; a superstar who hollered at his coach on the sideline; a punt returner's failure to capitalize on his second chance; and a QB switch that worked out wonderfully.
HOLIDAY CHEER? By halftime of the Jaguars-Texans game, Houston QB Brock Osweiler was benched. By game's end, Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley was out the door.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan fired Bradley immediately after Jacksonville's 21-20 loss to Houston in which the Texans rallied from a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit behind backup QB Tom Savage.
Khan's timing was unorthodox for an owner who showed such patience: Bradley went 14-48 in four seasons, his .225 winning percentage the worst of any NFL coach with at least 60 games.
Khan issued a statement thanking Bradley, who flew home on the team charter, and explaining he didn't wait any longer to fire him because ''I thought it would be best to do it immediately after today's result so Gus can step away, relax and regroup with his family during the Christmas and holiday season.''
The Texans remain tied with Tennessee atop the AFC South thanks to Savage and coach Bill O'Brien said on Monday that Savage will start next week against Cincinnati.
BUNGLING BRONCOS: Gary Kubiak drew scrutiny for his decisions before, during and after the Broncos' 16-3 loss to New England that damaged their playoff plans and hopes to defend their Super Bowl title.
-He reinserted fumble-prone Jordan Norwood at punt returner even though Kalif Raymond had provided a much-needed spark on special teams since supplanting him two weeks ago. Kubiak explained he needed Norwood as his third receiver for his no-huddle offense, so Raymond was inactive.
Norwood promptly muffed his first punt return of the day and fourth of the season. Norwood caught just one pass - with 14 seconds left - and he coughed that up, too.
-So atrocious was his offense that Kubiak declined to use any of his three timeouts when Tom Brady threw incomplete on third-and-5 with 1:13 left in the first half of a 10-3 game. So the Patriots burned off 41 seconds before the Broncos got the ball back, ran one run play and headed straight for the locker room to a cascade of jeers.
-In the losing locker room, Kubiak opened the floor to any player who wanted to address the team. When left tackle Russell Okung tried to speak up, he was shouted down by defensive players who have had it with the offense's season-long ineptitude, which includes a league-high 57 three-and-outs.
SHOUTING SHERMAN: At least the Broncos waited until they got back to the locker room to yell at each other. Seattle superstar Richard Sherman had another sideline outburst during the Seahawks' 24-3 over the Rams.
Sherman erupted during the third quarter with Seattle leading 10-3. On first-and-goal at the 1, Russell Wilson forced a pass in the direction of Jimmy Graham that appeared to be intercepted by the Rams' Bryce Hager. After a review, it was determined Hager didn't have possession, but that didn't stop Sherman from screaming in the direction of head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
''I don't like it when we throw the ball at the 1,'' said Sherman, who brought up the Super Bowl loss to New England and Wilson's famous pass from the 1 that was intercepted by Malcolm Butler.
''I was letting Pete know ... that we're not confident with you throwing the ball at the 1,'' Sherman said. ''It went great. They ran the ball on the next play and then figured out a way to get into the end zone.''
With another pass.
From the 1.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL
Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton
This story has been corrected to remove incorrect reference to Jordan Norwood.