Week Four of the inaugural (sort of) season of the USFL began with a 10:00 p.m. ET kickoff from Birmingham between the Philadelphia Stars and Michigan Panthers. Those who stayed up late witnessed an exciting finish.
Those who had the Panthers giving one point to the Stars ultimately were not excited.
After the Stars took at 26-25 late lead on a 21-yard field goal following a muffed punt, the Panthers made their push for a come-from-behind win.
The kickoff went out of bounds, giving Michigan the ball at the 50 to start the drive. Quarterback Shea Patterson methodically led Michigan down the field, with a run-heavy approach that brought the ball deep into Stars territory with less than a minute to play.
Specifically, a four-yard run on first down put the ball on the Philly 10 with 1:14 to go. In lieu of pushing for the end zone, however, Michigan coach Jeff Fisher got conservative — even though his punter/kicker Michael Carrizosa has not been sharp when it comes to putting the ball between the uprights. He was, before last night’s final kick, 1/3 in field goals and 0/2 on extra points.
Fisher nevertheless let the clock run down to 39 seconds before taking a timeout.
On second down, a running play moved the ball to the five. Reggie Corbin, who had 153 rushing yards on 13 carries, went out of bounds to top the clock. The Panthers then faced third and one with 33 seconds left.
The Panthers converted on a plunge to the three. When the play ended, the clock was rolling at 29 seconds — and Michigan had two timeouts.
Instead of taking one or shot two shots at the end zone (there was more than enough time to run two plays from scrimmage) Fisher decided to let the clock run all the way down to three seconds, putting all of his eggs in Carrizosa’s basket.
As noted during the FS1 broadcast, Carrizosa — a punter who attempted only two field goals at San Jose State — last made a game-winning field goal was in eighth grade.
That streak will continue. The 21-yard field goal hit the upright, bounced wide.
Maybe Fisher just assumed the guy could make a 21-yard kick. He assumed wrong.
Sure, a touchdown on first and goal would have given the Stars 25 seconds or so to get the win. But they had no timeouts.
More importantly, Fisher had no kicker. Look at the roster. There’s no kicker. Just a punter.
Thanks to that fairly significant flaw, Fisher isn’t 2-2 in the USFL. Instead, he’s 1-3.