In today's Charlotte Observer, Panther quarterback Matt Moore second-guesses himself for running the ball instead of passing it on third-and-4 from the Tampa Bay 7 midway through the fourth quarter Sunday.
I was part of Moore's group interview in the Panther locker room Wednesday where he said, among other things, about taking the conservative route on that run-pass decision: "I kind of just wanted to be really super-safe. I didn't take a chance there and I wish I would've. I wanted to guarantee points."
Moore caught heat from the coaches and the receivers after the call and laughingly labeled himself "weak" for not throwing the ball on Wednesday. Jonathan Stewart gained two yards on the play, John Kasay kicked a 23-yard field goal, Carolina went up 16-6 after that and that was the final score.
But here's the thing: Although I criticize coach John Fox a lot for conservatism, in this case I would have done exactly what Moore did.
Tampa Bay wasn't scoring. A 10-point lead, a two-score game -- that was going to seal this one. But what if Moore had thrown the fade route the coaches wanted him to throw and got it intercepted? He had overthrown one of those already, so maybe he underthrows the next one and it's picked off.
Then it's still 13-6, Carolina is only a TD ahead and it's still a game.
I think Moore's initial instinct on this was correct. Do the sure thing. Take the sure win. No need to backtrack.
Now it will be different Sunday. New England is vulnerable in the secondary. Drew Brees made the Pats look silly, which is one thing, but so did the Dolphins' Chad Henne, and that's another. Moore is going to have to "trust himself" more, as he said Wednesday. If he doesn't throw for at least 200-250 yards in this one, no chance the Panthers win.
But in the Tampa Bay situation, I think Moore did the right thing to start with. No need to apologize, no matter what the coaches and receivers wanted.