It was during the Green Bay Packers’ resurgence under Brett Favre and Reggie White that the late defensive guru Fritz Shurmur dropped one of his most enduring maxims.
Growing tired of all the nitpicking over a closer-than-expected victory, Shurmur interrupted the interrogation at Lambeau Field to exclaim, “I’d hate to think we’ve gotten to the point where we’re judging the quality of wins around here now.”
Nick Chubb was a toddler back then, but it’s a point that’s just as pertinent now for a perennially downtrodden franchise as it was then for a resurgent one riding the wave of Super Bowl success.
A win is a win; let Las Vegas worry about the margin of victory.
Especially at a time when the NFL is betting big on the once-taboo gambling industry, and “Did we win?” has pretty much given way to “Did we cover?”
Chubb’s decision to forgo a sure touchdown and veer out of bounds at the 1-yard line with no defender close by so the Cleveland Browns (6-3) could salt away their rain-drenched 10-7 win over the Houston Texans drew much debate because it had such big implications for bettors.
The Browns were a 4½-point favorite. So, no, they didn’t cover.
Chubb acknowledged it wasn’t easy to pass up a touchdown, saying, “That’s the natural instinct, to get into the end zone.”
But in the moment, he wasn’t worried about personal stats or point spreads or fantasy points. He just heeded the instructions of coach Kevin Stefanski to give himself up if he got the first down so the Browns could run out the clock on the Texans, who had no timeouts left.
Chubb took a pitch from Baker Mayfield on third-and-3 with 1:07 remaining and bounced outside, reeling off a 59-yard run down the left sideline before veering sharply out of bounds just shy of the goal line.
“I should have just slid to keep the clock running or taken a knee, but it was a split-second decision,” Chubb said.
Stefanski said he wouldn’t have been upset had Chubb scored there to put the Browns ahead by two scores with less than a minute left, but he appreciated his running back heeding his instructions, the code for which was “No Mas.”
It’s now the most notorious “No Mas” since the infamous prize fight between Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980.
Among the other notable calls in Week 10 were two in Detroit, where former NFL star cornerback Aqib Talib made his broadcast booth debut two months after his retirement from the game, serving as color commentator for Washington’s game against the Lions.
Talib wasn’t polished but he wasn’t button-down, either, bringing the same energy and enthusiasm that always made his interviews so entertaining to a game that featured a wild ending and an officiating blunder.
When Alex Smith, who set career highs with 33 completions in 55 attempts for 390 yards, drove Washington to a tying field goal in the closing seconds, Talib told play-by-play announcer Dan Hellis, “An overtime game for my first time in the booth! How ‘bout that, Dan?’”
Talib should have known better — he played with Lions kicker Matt Prater in Denver during training camp in 2014.
After a touchback, the Lions started their final drive at their 25 with 16 seconds and three timeouts left.
Matt Stafford hit Quintez Cephus for a 10-yard gain, and as the rookie receiver fought for more yards, the clock ran down down to 9 seconds on the television broadcast before the Lions called their first timeout.
It appeared there were actually 10 seconds left when down judge Dana McKenzie blew his whistle and raised his left hand.
During the timeout, referee Alex Kemp instructed the clock operator to put 10 seconds on the clock, then quickly corrected himself to say 12 seconds.
The next play, a deep incompletion to Cephus, drained six seconds, but a roughing-the-passer penalty on Chase Young put the ball at the 50-yard line.
There actually should have been only 4 seconds left, which probably would have forced a Hail Mary by Stafford.
But with 6 seconds left, Stafford had time for a quick pass, and he hit Marvin Jones for 9 yards. The Lions called a timeout with 3 seconds remaining and Prater came in and nailed a 59-yard field goal as time expired for a 30-27 win.
“What a leg!” Talib exclaimed. “Great, entertaining game. I couldn’t ask for a better game.”