It’s only Week 1 of the preseason, but the petty is in midseason form.
Most NFL head coaches want to escape Week 1 of the NFL preseason without major injuries. The operating term here is “most.” Don’t count Ron Rivera and Bill Belichick among them.
With the Patriots in victory formation to end the game, Rivera didn’t let the clock tick down with about a minute and a half remaining: Instead, the Washington head coach decided to call a timeout, seemingly angering and confusing Belichick.
On the following play, Belichick dialed up something for Rivera and the Football Team to practice, all right: Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson ripped a 91-yard touchdown run, cementing the win and giving the ball back to Washington.
While the scoreboard matters, the result, while it took a different way to get there, might be what Rivera wanted: A few extra plays on offense to get things sorted out and get a look at his roster entering preseason Week 2. They did run a couple of plays on offense before the final gun. Or they wanted to practice some late-game situations. Washington only trailed by two and the Patriots were backed up inside their 10-yard line. Force a punt and Washington could practice a potential game-winning drive and field goal situation rather than let the Pats kneel it out.
With the fourth preseason game axed in response to the expansion of the regular-season schedule, coaches are going to need to get a better look at potential bubble players to figure out what they got. That’s probably what Rivera was going for here.
Still, this was the textbook definition of “mess around and find out” for Rivera and Washington.