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Sunday, January 4, 2009
Childress' first-quarter explanation

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

MINNEAPOLIS -- We railed pretty hard Sunday night on Minnesota coach Brad Childress' decision to turn down a holding penalty in the first quarter of the Vikings' 26-14 loss to Philadelphia. So it's only fair that we give you Childress' explanation for the decision, which allowed the Eagles to kick a relatively routine 43-yard goal.

To reset the stage: The Eagles were called for holding on a third-and-9 play at the Vikings' 26. A 10-yard holding penalty would have forced them into a third-and-19 situation at the 36-yard line. If the Eagles re-played the down, they were faced with the possibility of a 53-yard field goal attempt if they were unable to gain any yards.

Childress, however, turned down the penalty and took the result of the play: An incomplete pass. Childress said he opted not to push the Eagles further back because his "special teams guy" -- presumably special teams coordinator Paul Ferraro -- said placekicker David Akers would make it from 53 yards.

For the record, Akers was 2 of 5 during the regular season on kicks of 50 or more yards.

"We kind of have an idea where [Akers] can knock it in from," said Childress, an Eagles assistant from 1999-2005.

Pressed further on the subject, Childress said:

"The point is they would have played the down again. You're basically giving something to get something, and nothing says that you're going to stop them for zero yards and it's going to be a [53]-yard attempt."

Childress was asked about the possibility of his defense making a play on third-and-19. In other words, why didn't he think his defense could hold the Eagles to less than 10 yards on that play, forcing Akers to kick a longer field goal?

"It's glass half-full, glass half-empty," Childress said. "I'm not sure where that drive started [the Vikings' 27-yard line], but they were moving the football and we just wanted to get the ball out of their hands and get their offense off the field."

At best, Childress' explanation is unconventional and not representative of a coach who has much faith in his defense. At worst, it's a cover story for a more egregious mistake: Losing track of the game situation.

I lean toward the former. I think Childress chose a near-automatic field goal over the possibility of a big play on third-and-19. I just think that decision gives far too much credit to the Eagles offense and not enough faith in his own defense.