"Hey Mike, can I go back and take a timeout?"
"Whatever." — Al Michaels.
Perhaps no other quote in the history of sports broadcasting sums up a game better than that one made by the legendary NBC broadcaster in the closing minutes of the Cowboys' 13-7 loss to Washington in the regular-season opener.
Leading 10-7 despite doing everything they could to give the game away, the Redskins started a drive at their own 23-yard line with 6:14 left in the game with Dallas possessing all three of its timeouts.
The Cowboys defense held Washington to third-and-2 at the Redskins 31 before a 10-yard pass to Santana Moss was good for a first down.
Tick, tock, tick, tock.
Then, on the very next play, another first down pass to Chris Cooley went to the Dallas 47-yard line. By that point, there was 3:38 left in the game and the Redskins breached Dallas territory with four more downs to play with, at least.
That's when Michaels' first stroke of genius was uttered.
"Dallas is getting to the point when they're going to have to start thinking of using their timeouts defensively," he said.
Instead, Cooley was flagged for illegal motion forcing first-and-15 from the Washington 48 and actually stopped the clock for free with 3:19 remaining. Didn't matter though because Clinton Portis went 17 yards up the gut to the Dallas 35 for another Skins first down with just 2:35 to play. Dallas was still sitting on those timeouts though.
Then, another boneheaded play by Washington gave Dallas ANOTHER free timeout when Larry Johnson ran out of bounds on first-and-10 to stop the clock at 2:32 after just a 1-yard gain.
Then came the most egregious miscalculation of the entire game. On second-and-9 from the Dallas 34, Johnson ran for a gain of seven yards to bring up third-and-2 with 2:20-something remaining. But instead of calling a timeout, Wade Phillips let the clock run All. The. Way. Down. to the two-minute warning. Are you kidding me?
That's when the truest words ever spoken from Al "Do You Believe in Miracles" Michaels' mouth came out:
"I just don't know why you don't take your timeouts on the front end in this circumstance. Whatever."
So after a false start penalty on the Redskins forced third-and-7 from the 27 and McNabb threw an incomplete pass, Graham Gano hit a 49-yard field goal to give the Skins the final points of the night and the 13-7 lead.
Dallas got the ball back at its own 19-yard line with 1:45 left in the game. But hey, they had all three timeouts left! We all know what happened from that point.
Sorry, but give me one timeout with 80 yards to go in 3 1/2 minutes any day over 80 yards to go in 1:45 with three. But hey, I'm not a head coach. Then again, Wade isn't either, he's just a defensive coordinator working with a subpar offensive coordinator. But that's another post altogether.