Did the Bills make the right call going for it on fourth down in Titans loss?

Did the Bills make the right call going for it on fourth down in Titans loss?

The Buffalo Bills elected to go for fourth-and-1 rather than kick a game-tying field goal. They were unsuccessful and lost to the Titans in Week 6.

Monday Night Football delivered one heck of a 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.

Henry’s third touchdown of the night gave the Titans a 34-31 lead with just three minutes on the clock, but that appeared to be enough time for some heroics by Allen and the Bills. And indeed, he drove Buffalo down the field and got them deep into Tennessee territory. After a will run that sent the quarterback airborne was (rightly) ruled short of the line to gain, though, head coach Sean McDermott faced a tough decision.

Go for it on fourth down to try and win in regulation or kick the field goal to likely force overtime?

McDermott put his faith in Allen and went with a quarterback sneak. However, an incredible play from Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons stonewalled the quarterback short of the first down, effectively ending the game.

Should the Bills have kicked the field goal on fourth down?

That’s a bit of a loaded question. In terms of the analytics, ESPN’s model said that the Bills had a slightly higher win percentage chance if they went for it 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 best play. But the Bills had also moved the ball consistently on the Titans defense all night. So it’s difficult to criticize McDermott and the Buffalo coaching staff for making the aggressive play to basically go for the win in regulation.

And for what it’s worth, Allen was seemingly all-in on the decision to go for the fourth down when he talked about it after the game. He appreciated the belief and said the team would grow from the failed conversion:

Coaches — particularly those who buy into analytics — are always going to preach process over results and this is a prime example of that. The Bills made the right call to go for the fourth down; the Titans just made a terrific play in the biggest moment of the game. Sometimes, that’s just the way things go.

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