How many times during the season last year did the Packers achieve that greatest of defensive plays, the game-clinching interception? It seems like every week at the end of the season and in the playoffs. Of those great plays, how many times did the defensive back attempt to return the ball for six? The answer is almost all of them. With a game in hand, the opposition stymied and the fans going nuts, all the heroic defensive back had to do was kneel down and hand the ball over to Aaron Rodgers (or even better, Matt Flynn) and convene the victory formation. But no, these guys want MORE! It doesn’t matter if there are 11 men waiting to pounce on you, they still try for the BIG PLAY. I’ve even seen replays of the sideline reactions and it’s always the same: Every coach and player gives one second to celebration and then to a man is yelling “GET DOWN!!” They even flap their arms in the universal gesture that means “FALL DOWN YOU IDIOT, WE’VE GOT THE GAME WON!” But it takes a while for that to sink in, I guess, and every one of those guys wants to get on SportsCenter. And the absolute worst of it happens when the pick occurs in the end zone. Kneel down, give your team the ball at the 20 and be a hero!
Look: There are a lot of outcomes, many of them bad. You can get tackled at the 1” line. You can fumble it back to the other team. You can get injured. If the game is on the line and you still need to score points, by all means, get out there and make a play! But you have to understand the game situation and giving up your shot at further personal glory for sealing a team victory is nothing but a win-win scenario.
I mention this because Sam Shields tried to run back an interception from deep in his own end zone on Sunday. Not happy with sealing a 24-3 victory and not happy with the number of Rams in his way, he decided to run the ball all the way over to the other side (still in his own end zone, mind you) and see if the way wasn’t clear for a 106-yard return. Unfortunately, a pissed-off Ram wide out was waiting there to clean his clock. The result could have been much worse: the ball could have come loose and been recovered by the Rams, giving them points and momentum. It’s bad enough, though! Shields suffered a concussion on the play and is even now being evaluated. So his quest for personal glory could end up costing his team in the long run. So THINK when you make that game-sealing pick and GET DOWN!