|Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Bills chose an odd time for a QB sneak. (NFL.com)|
A bizarre scene unfolded in the Bills-Seahawks game Sunday when Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick decided to run a quarterback sneak on first down, with Buffalo trailing Seattle 37-17 and 10:47 remaining in the third quarter.
On the previous play, the Bills had picked up a first down, but just barely. And it sure looked like Fitzpatrick and the Bills sideline were under the impression they were in a third-and-short situation.
Everyone watching the play was confused, including Fox announcers Dick Stockton and John Lynch.
"First down and a quarterback sneak," Stockton said before pausing as if he was confused. "It was a first down, by the way. They were not short with it. Fitzpatrick with the quarterback sneak as if they needed a yard."
"I know I'm supposed to be the expert analyst, but I can't help you there," Lynch replied. "I have no idea what he's doing. He did go to Harvard, so maybe he's smarter than me."
Or maybe he did it on purpose? That's what Fitzpatrick claimed after the game, anyway.
"That was me. We were in a bad play. I did not want to take a timeout. We had a bad look," Fitzpatrick said when asked about the sneak. "Outside it was a run play and the safety was blitzing off of the edge. Like I said, it happened late in the 24-second clock. I did not want to take a timeout and I did not want to hand the ball to C.J. [Spiller] with a guy untouched coming at him for a fumble. So I thought that was the best thing. Got us to second-and-9."
Second-and-9isn't exactly an outcome you want, but Fitzpatrick did admit the sneak was "not a great play."
The Bills got their khakis kicked in against Seattle on Sunday, and even Pete Carroll feels bad about the whole thing. So the point isn't to sit here and point at Fitzpatrick and laugh because he ran a quarterback sneak on first-and-10.
(And pretty please, as some of my Twitter followers did, don't compare this to Tom Brady's "Gold Dog" audible from Sunday night. Brady saw the defensive tackles spread wide. The line was stacked against Fitzpatrick. As you can see above, he had no room to go anywhere.)
Fitz's logic -- avoiding the delay of game, not having C.J. Spiller get destroyed by an unblocked blitzer -- is sound enough, I suppose, to avoid questioning whether or not anyone actually knew it was first down. And on the next play (a Spiller run out of the wildcat with Brad Smith on the field), the Bills did get a first down.
But in the process of getting a single yard on a quarterback sneak on a first down, Buffalo kind of managed to sum up its entire season.
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