Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich defended his playcalling that ultimately costed his team a win over the Buffalo Bills in the wild-card round. On Saturday, the Bills handed a 27-24 loss to the Colts to advance to the next round and claim their first playoff win since 1995.
While 10-7 up late in the first quarter, Reich elected to go on a fourth-and-goal from the four-year line instead of kicking a field goal. Colts quarterback Philip Rivers didn't complete his pass to rookie wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.
and the Bills took over on downs. The Bills then quicky got 96 yards down the field and scored a touchdown for a 14-10 lead. "[It was a] strong go," Reich said of the decision to go for it on fourth down, citing the analytics he and his staff frequently rely on when making such calls, per ESPN.
"If you don't make it, they're backed up, they're likely going to be conservative and you have a chance to get it back."
Reich acknowledges 'no gimmies' in the NFL
After scoring a touchdown to reduce the deficit to 24-16, the Colts went for a two-point conversion instead of kicking an extra point.
"I called our best run down there, it didn't convert," Reich said. "No gimmies in this league." Early in the fourth quarter, Colts coach Reich thought Bills running back Zack Moss fumbled the ball so he challenged the call.
The call remained as it was initially called and the Bills kept the ball. "That was bad on my part," Reich said. "I should have waited, there was no hurry to challenge that. What we initially saw -- people on the sideline and in communication with -- thought it was out.
Everyone thought it was out." The Colts, who surrendered 17 consecutive points after a failed fourth-and-goal conversion, in the end had a chance to claim the win. After managing to reduce the deficit to 27-24, the Colts had a chance to score a touchdown on the final drive and make it to the next round.
But the Bills defense stood strong and the Colts ended up falling short in their comeback attempt. "Very hard to stomach," Reich said. "You get in playoffs and have a good team and you can do it. I know we have a team to go all the way. We gave ourselves chances but didn't get it done. Red zone hurt us."