Week of Woe: NFL's worst in-game coaching decisions the past decade

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Welcome to Yahoo Sports' NFL "Week of Woe." (Henry Russell/Yahoo Sports)

Let's face it: Rooting for sports teams can often be woeful. Only one gets to lift the trophy at year's end, and the months-long grind to determine that champion is stomach-churning. It's frustrating. It's also fun as hell. With that in mind, welcome to Yahoo Sports' "Week of Woe" in the NFL, where we look at some sliding doors that could have turned championships toward different hands. Next up: Worst in-game coaching decisions.

NFL coaches are fallible. Everyone makes mistakes. Just because a person is at the highest point in their profession doesn’t mean they’re immune to making goofy errors. Over the past few years of football, there have been a handful of mind-numbing decisions that have made coaches look mortal and created a handful of internet moments. Here are six of the funniest and worst coaching decisions of this era of football.

Colts fake punt against the Patriots

The Colts had a play so bad that people photoshopped the crying Jordan meme onto the play. In a 2015 game against the Patriots, the Colts looked like they were going to try a fake punt ... or something … and it resulted in one of the craziest-looking plays in NFL history. With no blockers ahead, the Colts snapped the ball, under center, to punter Pat McAfee, who just got tackled for no yards by multiple Patriots defenders. And just like that, the Colts were immortalized in the history of football follies.

Seahawks bungle the end of Super Bowl XLIX

One of the most infamous plays in NFL history. Malcolm Butler intercepts Russell Wilson on the goal line, giving Tom Brady and Bill Belichick their fourth Super Bowl title together. It’s greatly maligned as one of the worst decisions in NFL history because the Seahawks had Marshawn Lynch right there, but in actuality the process wasn’t that bad. They just got the one result you can’t live with in that scenario.

It’s assumed that the Seahawks would have scored if they gave the ball to Lynch, but on the chance that they didn’t score. They would have been forced to call their last timeout and still throw two times to close the game. They were hoping to score a touchdown and would have settled for an incompletion. That at least would have given them a third and fourth and goal with a timeout in their back pocket.

Instead, an interception. And almost a decade of mocking to come with it.

Nathaniel Hackett opts for a 64-yard field goal in his first game

No list discussing this sort of subject matter can miss Nate Hackett’s first game with the Broncos — which really set the tone for his lone season as the team’s head coach. It was the Broncos’ first game with Russell Wilson at quarterback and they were playing against the Seahawks on "Monday Night Football." On a fourth-and-5 from around midfield at the end of the game, Hackett could have given Wilson a chance to be a highly paid hero and lead a victory against his former team.

Nope. Instead, Hackett decided to let Brandon McManus kick a 64-yard field goal on the road, which he missed. That’s no shade to McManus, that’s a difficult kick for anyone. He was put in a bad spot by his coach and the Broncos-Hackett marriage immediately got off to a poor start.

Cowboys waste time with a fake punt disaster in the playoffs

Remember when the Cowboys wasted valuable time in the fourth quarter of a playoff game by putting their punt team on the field on first down? Like they ran 40 seconds off of the play cock by putting their punt team on the field — on first down? Then they needed 35 seconds at the end of the game to try and complete their comeback bid, but they partially ran out of time because they wasted 40 seconds in the fourth quarter by putting their punt team on the field ON FIRST DOWN?!

Never forget this monstrosity that featured one of the more peculiar rules in the NFL rulebook popping up — if a player puts his hand on the ball in a manner that suggests he’s going to snap the ball and start the play, that player can’t be subbed out of the game. Here’s a Twitter thread if you needed a step-by-step walkthrough of how absurd all of this was.

Dan Quinn opts in for a field goal against the 49ers in 2015

Oh, the 2015 Falcons. What a squad. All flash and flare, absolutely no substance of a real winner. In Dan Quinn’s first run with the Falcons, he made an egregious mistake to kick a field goal from the 1-yard line while down four points to the 49ers with three minutes left in the game.

Kicking a field goal to still be down by one point and handing the ball back to the other team is now a widely accepted mockery, but at the time, it was just a blunder that was passed over. The Falcons made the field goal, the 49ers got the ball back up one point and never gave the ball back, quickly ending the game. Even missing the field goal would have been better because at least the 49ers would have been backed up for a potential safety.

Field position is important, folks. Even more important is going for a touchdown when you need more than three points in crunch time.

Mike McCarthy gets Peyton Manning fired up on Monday Night Football

In terms of impact, this one isn’t as significant as the others, but it did give us a great Manningcast moment in which Peyton Manning became extremely frustrated with McCarthy’s unwillingness to call a timeout in order to run a play prior to halftime in a game against the Eagles.

“Call a timeout, Mike!” along with Peyton frantically making the timeout motion with his hands is good enough to land on this list.

Previously in the 'Week of Woe'

The ones that got away for all 32 NFL teams