Analytics say Bills’ failed QB sneak was right call vs. Titans

While the Bills lost 31-34 to the Tennessee Titans in the final minute of their Monday Night Football matchup, it was the final play of the drive for Buffalo that has drawn a lot of attention.

After the Bills’ Josh Allen went airborne to try and layout for the first down on the previous play, the QB then also went for it on 4th and 1 at the Tennessee third-yard line, only to be stopped by the Titans defense.

Bills head coach McDermott had no doubt that the call was the right one for the team.

“I felt, ‘Hey, if we’re that far from potentially winning the game right there, it was the best thing we could do.’ And I owe that to my players, and I believe in my players. I believe in our quarterback.”

And if the head coach’s vote of confidence isn’t enough, it’s worth pointing out that the play call decision was, in fact, data-supported according to advanced analytic metrics.

Per NFL’s Next Gen Stats, the conversion probability of going for it on 4th down was 75% with a 63% probability of winning the game. That was a 21.3% better chance than the alternative:

Had the Bills coach decided to play it safe and kick a field goal to tie the game in the final three minutes, the win probability would have only been 42% if they went for a field goal. The difference of exactly 21.3%.

It was a statistically sound call, with a high probability of success. Allen slipping on the play and Titans DE Jeffery Simmons penetrating the left side of the offensive line were both surprises, as the Bills came up short in the contest.

Nonetheless, the QB’s coach had no hesitation in doubling down in support of rolling with him in the clutch while addressing the media after the game.

“At the end of the day, I trust (Allen), and I’ll trust him again if we’re in that situation again,” McDermott said. “I’ll take Josh Allen 10 times out of 10.”


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