Sean McDermott on 4th-down decision: I'll take Josh Allen 10 times out of 10
Though the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills combined for 65 points and 779 yards of offense on Monday, their game very much came down to inches, as it’s wont to do in the romantic world of the gridiron.
Trailing by the final score of 34-31, Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott elected to go for the first down and an opportunity to win in regulation on fourth-and-1 from the Titans’ 3-yard line rather than kick a game-tying field goal.
And so, with 22 seconds left on the clock, the Bills and McDermott put the game in the hands of their best player, quarterback Josh Allen, for a QB sneak. Allen appeared to slip moving left and was stuffed by Jeffery Simmons.
Buffalo went for the win and got stuffed. Simmons’ tackle led to a kneel down and a thrilling Titans win.
“Give our guys credit, give our staff credit. They tried to walk into one and our guys adjusted quickly without hesitation,” Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said after the game. “Very, very well-prepared for that and they were able to execute, obviously. The players were the ones that were able to get the push and the penetration but we got down in there as he walked under center.”
McDermott gave the Titans credit, too, but despite how it all played out offered no regret or anything but confidence in Allen, whose final play cast a shadow over another sterling night as he threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns.
“At the end of the day, I trust him and I’ll trust him again if we’re in that situation again,” McDermott said. “I’ll take Josh Allen … 10 times out of 10. Give them credit they made the play they had to make when the game was on the line.”
The decision was a risky one that ended with the Bills on the wrong end of the final score, but McDermott went with his gut.
“Felt good about our chances. Had a chance to win the game right there and didn’t get it done,” he said.
And it’s really as simple as that.
Per Next Gen Stats, McDermott added 21.3% to the Bills’ win probability by going for it on fourth rather than kicking it, which would’ve provided a 42.1% win probability as opposed to the 63.4% garnered by going for the first down.
Of course, analytics made no matter in the trenches in a battle for inches.
Allen’s footing wasn’t perfect. Simmons’ clutch play pretty much was.
“Didn’t work out in my favor, obviously,” Allen said. “Didn’t have the greatest footing. Happens. Game of inches.”
Sometimes that’s just an overused cliche. Sometimes it’s spot on as it was Monday night in Nashville, where the Titans won their game of inches, 34-31.
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