On the play, a Falcons defender knocked the ball lose and it was recovered in the end zone by Buffalo. That still handed Atlanta (7-9) two points as they were awarded a safety.
But Stevenson kept being sent out to return punts even though he had that shaky play and another bobble. Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott felt the need to give the rookie extra chances.
“I thought that was important (to stick with Stevenson),” McDermott said via video conference. “We turned it over three, four times today, however you want to count that one. It’s hard to win when you do that and that was a valuable lesson for him and I hope a stepping stone in his career.”
McDermott really must be hoping Stevenson learns from it because after joining the lineup in Week 12, he now has two fumbles on returns. McKenzie had one against the Indianapolis Colts and got the hook.
The actions in this scenario really speak a bit louder than words considering McKenzie’s role for the Bills went very quiet for a time.
He was even a healthy scratch at one point even though McDermott expressed confidence in him after taking him off punt return duties.
“I’m confident in Isaiah as a returner,” McDermott said in November. “As a team we have to take better care of the football. Hard to win not taking care of the ball.”
One still has to wonder how short of a leash the Bills will have with Stevenson going forward. Considering his limited production on offense, he could be a healthy scratch.