Let’s start with this: the Buffalo Bills were probably not going to beat the Chiefs tonight, and they were much less likely to beat them once they trailed 38-15 with less than five minutes to go in the game.
Bills coach Sean McDermott had already made one wrong call, kicking a field goal against a Patrick Mahomes-led offense from the Kansas City two-yard line. (You’re going to need touchdowns, opposing coaches. Please figure this out.) This time, though, the Bills made the right choice. Trailing 38-21, they elected to go for two. This surprised Nantz and Romo; an extra point, after all, would make it a two-possession game. (We’ll come back to this.)
Buffalo failed to convert, meaning the lead was 17, with about four minutes left to play. When the Bills recovered an onside kick, Romo immediately hammered McDermott’s choice, with Nantz joining in agreement.
After a ridiculous sequence saw the Bills facing 4th and 28, leading to a long field goal try, Nantz and Romo again brought up the fact that the game should have been a two-score game already:
This is doing a disservice to the viewer, because the logic behind Buffalo’s decision is both simple and sound. Down 17 points, had the Bills kicked an extra point, they would have trailed by 16. That is technically a two-score game, yes, but only if you’re factoring in two converted two-point tries. By failing to convert then, they at least learned as quickly as possible that they’d need three more scores, not two. It’s always better to have the relevant information as quickly as possible, because it can affect strategy and urgency down the stretch.
There’s also the admittedly remote scenario that, had Buffalo scored two touchdowns and converted both two-point tries, a third touchdown then would have afforded them the choice between playing for a tie with a PAT and going for two and the win.
You are not
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) January 25, 2021
This is all fairly academic in this case. The Bills had basically zero chance to come back and tie or win that game no matter how their conversion went, or if they’d have kicked the PAT instead. It’s just unfortunate that one of the most famous (and highest-paid) analysts in broadcasting today wasn’t able to offer why Buffalo would do what they did. Even if Romo had a reason for disagreeing with the tactic, he could have offered that in response, but instead viewers were either offered analysis they knew was incorrect, or had their incorrect and outdated notions reinforced without insight.
That’s not good for anyone.