If you're waiting for head coach Sean McDermott to start regretting his decision-making in the Buffalo Bills three-point loss to the Tennessee Titans on Monday night, don't hold your breath. In a game that saw nearly 10 lead changes throughout, Josh Allen and the Bills found themselves with a chance to force overtime if they could move the ball into field goal range on the final possession of the game. They did that part fairly easily, but once they got to the Titans three-yard line with only 22 seconds left to play, that's when McDermott was faced with a pressing decision that would decide the game.
He could either trot out kicker Tyler Bass for a chip shot that would force overtime at Nissan Stadium, or he could wave off overtime and go it on fourth-and-1 and end the game with either a loss or a win. He chose the latter, dialing up a quarterback sneak for Allen that saw the quarterback lose his footing en route to being stonewalled by the Titans defense.
And with that, the Bills go to 4-2 on the season and McDermott went on to explain his decision -- unapologetically.
"We're this far from winning the game," McDermott told media in his post-game press conference, per Pro Football Talk, while holding his fingers close together. "I owe it to my players. I believe in my players. I believe in my quarterback.
"I trust my guys. Obviously we didn't get it done in this case, but I trust my players."
Traditionalists might be upset with McDermott for not playing it conservative and taking the points to give his team more time to potentially take the win in overtime, and there's validity to that stance, but those who prefer analytics have a similarly justifiable argument in that going to OT doesn't guarantee anything; and especially considering the Bills defense had already shown they couldn't stop reigning NFL rushing champ Derrick Henry -- who mauled them with 156 yards from scrimmage with three touchdowns.
If the Titans win the coin toss in OT and take the field first, there's a chance the Bills don't see the ball again, and the decision to not go for it on fourth-and-1 in the final seconds of the fourth quarter would be just as skewered. McDermott took all of the possible outcomes into account and decided to put the game on Allen, who also led the team in rushing for the majority of the game.
Like it or don't, McDermott didn't make the wrong call, it simply had the wrong outcome for Buffalo.
"Josh is usually spot on with those," McDermott said. "Give them the credit for making the play. It felt, if we're that far from potentially winning the game right there it was the best thing we could do. We hadn't stopped them on defense for a number of drives there in the second half. Felt like we could go and win the game right there.
"Obviously, we didn't get it done."