Norv Turner Is an Idiot, But You Probably Already Knew That
a) Call for a Hail Mary play where you send everyone deep, heave up the ball and hope that you get either a lucky long catch or a pass interference penalty.
b) Send a couple of guys deep, but run a short comeback route with one receiver, have LaDainian Tomlinson trail behind them on a hook and ladder, hoping the trick play surprises the defense.
c) Go max protect, send two guys into the pattern and hope that with forever to throw the ball, someone gets open.
d) Punt, and hope that you'll get three quick stops, using your two remaining timeouts to get the ball back with one minute to go. You'll then drive the 80-90 yards you need with no timeouts and get the game-winning touchdown as the final gun sounds.If you've got a brain, you'd chose a or b, maybe even c or anything but d. If you're Norv Turner, you chose d, then scratch your head at how poorly it worked out. The punt ran the clock down to the two-minute warning, then the Falcons got a first down on two running plays, which allowed them to run out the clock.
If the Chargers' front office is thinking things through, it's pretty clear that this "offensive genius" (seriously, his strength is supposed to be his feel for calling an offense) has given Chargers fans plenty of reasons to miss Marty Schottenheimer. Schottenheimer may have turned to jello come playoff time, but hey, the Chargers aren't even going to make the playoffs under Turner.
There's no real rational explanation I can figure out for why the Chargers head coach believed that punting would be doing anything other than kicking away the team's last chance at a playoff spot. Admittedly the Chargers offense was pathetic all day to the tune of 201 yards--but that was going to still be the case even if the Chargers did figure out a way to stop the Falcons and get the ball back, the only difference would be the utter lack of time to drive the field. But by punting with 2:06 to play, Turner was somehow thinking that the chances of getting a fluke play on fourth and 19 was less likely than stopping the Falcons and then driving the length of the field (the Falcons got the ball after the punt at the Chargers 42).
But the more likely answer is that Turner hadn't really thought through the probabilities. With Warren Sapp saying the Raiders didn't practice the two-minute offense when Turner was the coach, that seems more likely. Coaches who call their own plays are especially susceptible to this, because they don't have enough time to be thinking through the clock management while also figuring out what play to call. Given five minutes to think it through, even Turner would have probably figured out the right answer, but he only had 45 seconds to decide, and he got it wrong.