Buffalo Bills. Compulsory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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The Buffalo Bills chosen to opt for fourth-and-1 instead of kick a game-tying basket. They were not successful and lost to the Titans in Week 6.
Monday Night Football delivered one heck of a video game in Week 6 with the Buffalo Bills visiting the Tennessee Titans. The two AFC foes were trading haymakers throughout the night with Josh Allen and his team pulling out all the stops and Derrick Henry continuing to be unstoppable for Tennessee.
Henrys third goal of the night gave the Titans a 34-31 lead with just three minutes on the clock, but that appeared to be adequate time for some heroics by Allen and the Bills. And certainly, he drove Buffalo down the field and got them deep into Tennessee area. After a will run that sent out the quarterback airborne was (rightly) ruled except the line to gain, though, head coach Sean McDermott faced a tough decision.
Go all out on fourth down to win and attempt in guideline or kick the basket to likely force overtime?
McDermott put his faith in Allen and went with a quarterback sneak. An unbelievable play from Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons stonewalled the quarterback brief of the first down, efficiently ending the video game.
Should the Bills have kicked the basket on fourth down?
Thats a bit of a packed question. In terms of the analytics, ESPNs model said that the Bills had a somewhat greater win portion opportunity if they went all out than if they kicked the field goal:
There are going to be those who argue that taking the sure points and getting on the field for overtime would be the finest play. But the Bills had also moved the ball consistently on the Titans defense all night. So its hard to criticize McDermott and the Buffalo coaching personnel for making the aggressive play to essentially choose the win in regulation.
And for what its worth, Allen was relatively all-in on the decision to choose the fourth down when he discussed it after the video game. He appreciated the belief and said the group would grow from the failed conversion:
Henrys 3rd goal of the night offered the Titans a 34-31 lead with simply three minutes on the clock, but that appeared to be sufficient time for some heroics by Allen and the Bills. The Bills had also moved the ball regularly on the Titans defense all night. Its challenging to criticize McDermott and the Buffalo coaching personnel for making the aggressive play to generally go for the win in guideline.
The Bills made the ideal call to go for the 4th down; the Titans just made an excellent play in the biggest minute of the video game.
Coaches– particularly those who buy into analytics– are constantly going to preach process over outcomes and this is a prime example of that. The Bills made the right call to go for the 4th down; the Titans just made a terrific play in the biggest moment of the video game. In some cases, thats simply the method things go.