The Broncos closed out Week 10 of the NFL season with a shocking 24-22 upset win over the Bills on Monday night in Buffalo. The win wasn't official until Wil Lutz knocked through a 36-yard field goal on the final play of the game, and although that doesn't sound very dramatic, let me assure you there was plenty of drama.
As a matter of fact, let's break down everything that went wrong for both teams over the final 30 seconds of the game.
1. Bills get called for pass interference. With the Bills leading 22-21, it looked like they were going to pull out the win. With just 35 seconds left to play, the Broncos were facing a third-and-10 at Buffalo's 45-yard line, which was out of a field goal range. On the third down play, Russell Wilson threw up a prayer and his prayers were answered when Taron Johnson got called for a 28-yard pass interference penalty.
The penalty gave the Broncos the ball at Buffalo's 17-yard line with just 29 seconds left to play.
2. Broncos decide to kneel the ball. With the ball at the 17, the Broncos were in line to attempt a 35-yard field goal, but then Sean Payton decided he wanted to kneel the ball to run out the clock. On three straight plays, Wilson took a knee, which pushed the field goal attempt back to 41 yards. This was definitely a questionable decision considering it was extremely windy during the game.
Besides the wind, there's also the fact that Lutz had already missed an extra point earlier in the game. In a situation like that, you want to give your kicker the closest attempt possible. Over the past five years, opposing kickers have hit just 75% of their field goals in Buffalo when attempting a kick between 40 and 43 yards. However, that percentage is 91.7% when attempting a kick between 35 and 39 yards, so yes, there's a huge difference between trying a 35-yard kick and a 41-yard kick.
3. Sean Payton calls for a mayday field goal. Not only did Payton push the field goal attempt back six yards, but he also called for a mayday field goal. This is what happens when it's fourth down and you don't have any timeouts left: The field goal team has to hustle on to the field since the clock is running. This is not an ideal situation for your kicker. After Wilson took his knee on third down, there were 22 seconds left, which means the Broncos had 22 seconds to get the field goal unit on the field. Once that's done, the kicker, snapper and holder have to make sure they're all on the same page.
4. Wil Lutz misses the kick. When you call for a mayday field goal, the kicker is in a rush and he doesn't get the same time he usually would to line up his kick. For Lutz, that proved to be an issue, because he MISSED his 41-yard field goal attempt. Lutz was lined up on the right hash and he simply kicked the ball straight and it missed right by about a foot. If Payton didn't want to have his kicker in a mayday situation, he could have had Wilson spike the ball on third down. This likely would have left the Bills with about 15 seconds left to try and win the game, but it would have made life easier for Lutz.
5. Bills bail out Payton. Despite the questionable decision-making by Payton, it didn't end up hurting the Broncos, because the Bills had an even bigger gaffe. Lutz's missed kick didn't count because the Bills got FLAGGED for having 12 men on the field. It's possible that calling for a mayday field goal actually helped the Broncos since all the chaos on the field seemed to confuse the Bills.
6. Lutz makes the kick. After the penalty was marked off, Lutz got to try again from 36 yards, and this time, he drilled the kick, giving the Broncos a 24-22 win.
Basically, the final 30 seconds was total chaos. If you want to see how this all played out, you can watch the video below.
If you want to check out our full takeaways from Denver's win, be sure to click here.