Bills coach Sean McDermott may realize, in hindsight, that he should have been more aggressive on fourth downs in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game. But at the time, he thought he had to play it safe.
McDermott said today that he worried about going for it on fourth down with 11 seconds left in the first half and seeing his team get discouraged if they failed.
“The one before half I really felt like morale was a big piece to that,” McDermott said, via a transcript provided by the team. “They had momentum, they were getting the ball after half as well, and I felt like we needed to come away with points at that one. Even though sometimes analytics may say one thing, whether it said it or not on our chart, I think there’s a human element to the game at the end of the day and I felt like we needed to come away with points.”
On the Bills’ 27-yard field goal in the third quarter, which cut the Chiefs’ lead from 24-12 to 24-15, McDermott said he can understand the argument that he should have gone for it.
“Then after half, that’s the one that even now I’m still continuing to process through,” McDermott said. “On one hand we were 2-for-8 at halftime on third downs and we were struggling somewhat on third down. I felt like I think it was a 12-point lead at the time we could get it to nine. That would change what we needed from two scores to a score and a half however you want to say that in your verbiage. That’s still the one that, being very open with you, I still think about. Maybe I should’ve gone for it. I felt like we could get it to fourth-and-3 or fourth-and-2, I know for sure we would have went for it.”
Analytics research has consistently shown that coaches should go for it on fourth down more often than they do. McDermott said today that he’s “Always learning from those situations.” In the future, he may be a big more aggressive on fourth downs.