Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel always seems to have an innovative trick up his sleeve, and he was at it again this Sunday against the Houston Texans.
With the Titans trailing by one and the Texans driving late in the fourth quarter, Tennessee took what looked to be a terrible penalty to give Houston a first down. Vrabel looked distraught on the sidelines, but inside he was grinning and twiddling his fingers like an evil genius. Why? Because that purposeful penalty wound up winning the Titans the game.
The Titans took a late penalty for 12 men on the field
The Titans looked to be on their way to another dominant win after they took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter against the Texans on Sunday. But Deshaun Watson never goes out quietly.
Watson led the Texans to a heroic comeback to take a one-point lead in the fourth quarter. Houston got the ball back with under nine minutes to play and went on a prolonged drive to get deep into Tennessee territory.
With less than three minutes left, the Texans faced a 2nd and 1 well within field goal range. Houston was milking the running clock as much as they could to leave Ryan Tannehill with as little time as possible to mount a comeback.
Right before the snap, Vrabel sent an extra defender onto the field, but peculiarly, no one came off to the sidelines. The referees blew their whistles and hit the Titans with 12 men on the field, which gave the Texans a first down.
Vrabel kneeled over in anger at the call, but he was secretly ecstatic.
Mike Vrabel actually took the penalty on purpose
When the refs flagged Tennessee for 12 men on the field, the clock was running down and approaching three minutes to play. Because of the penalty, though, the clock stopped at 3:05.
The Texans were about to run the ball for a first down on 2nd and 1, which would’ve given them 1st and 10 with under 2:30 to play. Instead, the clock stopped on the penalty and the Titans saved 40 seconds of game time.
That wasn’t a mistake at all. It was all according to Vrabel’s master plan.
Vrabel didn’t forget to sub out a defensive player. He sent the extra man on the field on purpose to draw the flag and stop the clock. He figured the Texans were going to get the first down anyway, so he gave them a free one in return for a clock stoppage.
Vrabel’s genius coaching move led to a Titans win
The Texans ended up scoring a touchdown on the drive to push the lead to seven points with 1:50 left. Without the penalty, the Titans would’ve only had about 1:10 left with just one timeout remaining.
Vrabel’s genius coaching move saved the Titans 40 seconds of game time, which turned out to be the only reason they had a chance to win in the end. Tannehill drove down the field and threw the game-tying touchdown pass to A.J. Brown with four seconds left in the game. Without the earlier penalty, Tennessee would’ve run out of time far before then.
This isn’t even the first time Vrabel’s pulled off an innovative move like this one. In 2018, he pulled the same stunt against the New York Jets in a similar situation. The Titans came back to win that game, too.
Vrabel and his dark magic have the Titans sitting at 5-0 early on in the season, and we can’t wait to see what the evil genius comes up with next.