Saturday, December 4

Bills’ Sean McDermott explains decision on fourth-down attempt against Titans: ‘I felt like we could go and win’

Bills coach Sean McDermott decided to influence his team’s chances of beating the Titans on “Monday Night Football” in a play that ultimately didn’t work out to visit Buffalo.

That play came with 22 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, when the Bills, 34-31 behind, chose to go within quarter-inches of Tennessee 3. Even if the Bills didn’t reach the end zone, a conversion would have given them a new series of kills and two or three more attempts for a passing score.

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So McDermott played for the win instead of the field goal to extend the game. Unfortunately for the Bills, it looked as if quarterback Josh Allen was slipping in his attempt. He was also greeted by Titans lineman Jeffrey Simmons, who perfectly shot the gap to fill Allen.

One play later, a kneeling by the Titans sealed their victory, which featured a “Monday Night Football” record with seven lead changes.

McDermott, explaining his decision after the game, said that he thought his team could go for victory at that point:

“Most of the quarterbacks’ sneaky moves are, there’s a feeling or an element of reading involved,” McDermott said. “And Josh usually gets that right. You’ve seen him be very successful in those situations.”

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The play obviously did not produce positive results for the visiting team, but it made sense at the time. What ESPN’s Ed Werder Noted, Allen was 13 of 14 on conversion attempts from fourth and 1 or less before the game’s sealing play. That’s more than any other player since 2018, ahead of second-place Lamar Jackson and Ezekiel Elliott, who have 10 each.

To that end, McDermott said he would “take Josh Allen 10 times out of 10” and that “he will always believe in my players and coaches.”

Still, McDermott acknowledged that he didn’t want to put the game, potentially, in the hands of his defense. The Titans scored in six of their last eight series after an interception by Ryan Tannehill in the first half. Those two units that didn’t finish in scores finished the half and the game.

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The reason Simmons was able to time the play and tackle Allen short: something that happened on a similar play early in the game, also near the goal line. On that play, Allen took the ball and instead of following his center on the whistle, he went to the left and took a big hit.

Simmons confirmed after the game that the Titans knew Allen would try to sneak out.

The Bills were put in that situation because of the earlier play. Allen ran at third and 6 for 5 yards, jumping to the line to win. Officials appeared to rule the play with a first down before reversing the decision. Repetition shows that the investment was correct:

That forced McDermott to make a decision that ultimately backfired on his team.

“Again, give them the credit.” McDermott said. “They made the play when they had to make one.”

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