Sunday’s Eagles win at the Linc was a fantastic game played by both the victorious Eagles and the Buffalo Bills. No matter how overtime played out, both teams played an electrifying game.
When you lose a game that closely contested, everyone, from fans to players and coaches involved, can point to a few moments that, had they gone differently, could have swung the game in the opposite direction.
Bills head coach Sean McDermott will certainly dwell on the end of regulation as one of those moments.
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As Jake Elliott lined up a 59-yard field goal that tied the game in the final minute, McDermott called a time out. Not out of the ordinary by any means, he tried to ice Elliott. Despite the terrible conditions and pressure, Elliott’s kick was true.
After a touchback on the ensuing kickoff, the Bills offense took the field with 20 seconds remaining and a time out in hand. Rather than take a shot at getting into field goal range, McDermott chose to have QB Josh Allen take a knee and play for overtime.
‘I thought about going for it, but just with their pass rushers and 20 seconds, I just wanted to make sure – really, I was trying to end the game a couple of plays before using the timeout on third down,” McDermott said after the game. “I think it was the plus-41 [yard line], trying to make sure we had the right defense there and making a tough field goal, which it was. Emptied out the next one to try and answer the rain, make the kicker think about it a little bit and then he made a 59-yard field goal. Great play by him, and then we’re left with one right there. So, we went to overtime and had a chance to win it and didn’t.”
McDermott, the La Salle High School alum and former Eagles assistant coach, actually had all three timeouts as the Eagles lined up for 3rd-and-17 with 30 seconds left. He burned a time out prior to that play, an incomplete pass to A.J. Brown. He then used another time out to ice Elliott.
He could have had all three time outs to play with, which would have opened up a host of options to try to get the team in position for a game-winning field goal. Bills kicker Tyler Bass has a career-long of 58 yards, which means Buffalo would need 34 yards to get him in that range.
With one time out remaining, that seems improbable, but not impossible. If the Bills had two or three time outs left, it’s a lot more doable.
It’s a decision that will likely cause McDermott some sleepless nights.
“Hindsight is always 20-20. Believe me, it’s gone through my mind more than once. So, when you get the result you’ve got, you’re always looking back and saying, ‘Hey, maybe if we kept one of those.’”