McDermott says Bills opted for 50-yard FG on 4th-down because of momentum

By: Nick Wojton

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ORCHARD PARK – Minutes after going down on the scoreboard for the first time in the game, 23-16,  on Sunday against the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott was faced with a 4th-and-1 from the Pats’ 32-yard line.

Buffalo (8-7) had gained 43 yards on the drive which spanned five plays prior to fourth down, but McDermott trotted kicker Steven Hauschka out on the field, who at that point, was three-for-three in the game having converted from 30, 23, and 41.

NFL coaches are paid the big bucks to make decisions. McDermott’s decision backfired. Hauschka pushed the long kick to the right and the Patriots ensuing drive went for seven plays, traveling 60 yards, concluding with a Tom Brady touchdown pass to Dion Lewis to bring the score to 30-16.

Buffalo did not score again the game, falling 37-16. McDermott said on Tuesday in Orchard Park that a big factor in his decision to kick the ball instead of attempting to gain three first for the first down was momentum.

“Yeah I mean, those are situations in hindsight, you know the results afterwards, and you say yeah, I would have done something different. No doubt,” McDermott said.

“At that point in the game, it was a back-and-forth game. I felt like they had a little bit of momentum and I felt in order to stop their momentum, going with the field goal, it would have got us within four in a tight game. And I honestly thought it was potentially going to come down to maybe who had the ball last,” McDermott added. “But you learn and grow from all situations and it’s something I’ll use moving forward to benefit us in the right way.”

The first-time head coach this season said he has prepared for those types of situations since the summer. Early in the game on 4th-and-2 from the New England six, McDermott opted to keep the offense on the field. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor rolled right and was forced out of bounced for a six-yard sack. Buffalo got nothing out of that drive when the game was tied 3-3.

McDermott later added a whole additional list of factors in his decision making on fourth down.

“You prepare for those situations but no two situations are exactly alike. Score, part of the game, who you’re playing, the weather, there’s a lot that goes into it. How you’re moving the ball, how your defense is playing. Special teams, no different. I take a lot of notes because I believe in learning from those situations to make me better just like making our football team better,” McDermott said.

While not mentioned in the response above, how the offense was playing also appears to have affected McDermott’s thinking. As mentioned, Buffalo had settled for three field goals when entering the red zone against New England.

Additionally, Kelvin Benjamin had a touchdown taken away from him. The play prior, tight end Charles Clay dropped a touchdown pass from Taylor. At the end of the day, four red zone drives netted only nine points. McDermott said he’s concerned heading into the final game of the season.

“Well, there’s legitimate concerns in terms of being able to score points,” McDermott said. “Against good opponents, sooner or later that’s going to come back to get you.”

Other notes from Tuesday’s press conference:

  • Buffalo released DT DeAndre Coleman
  • RB Travaris Cadet (ankle) and WR Andre Holmes (neck) have been placed on IR, ending their seasons.
  • RB Marcus Murphy, WR Malachi Dupre & DT Rickey Hatley all added to 53-man roster from the team’s practice squad.
  • CB EJ Gaines (knee) is improving, per McDermott. DB Shareece Wright is in the concussion protocol.

Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott — Nick Wojton photo



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