When the Buffalo Bills stopped Kirk Cousins just short of the goal line on a fourth-down quarterback sneak, it sure looked like they had just secure a win over the visiting Minnesota Vikings to improve to 7-2 on the year. Only 49 seconds were left on the clock, after all, and the Bills suddenly found themselves in possession of the football up 27-23.
The only problem, from their perspective, was that they had to set up shop at their own 1-yard line. What followed was mayhem.
The Bills called a quarterback sneak to create some breathing room, and with their own QB a unicorn of sorts — hyper-athletic 6-foot-5, 237-pounder Josh Allen — the decision did make sense. However, the execution did not work as planned: the center-quarterback exchange was botched, leading to a fumble.
Minnesota’s Eric Kendricks recovered the loose football in the end zone for a Vikings touchdown and 30-27 lead. The Bills would later tie the game to force overtime, but they eventually fell short with a final score of 33-30.
Their botched snap late in the fourth quarter was as big a play as any in Buffalo’s second straight loss and third overall this year. Just look at it from this perspective: the Bills’ win percentage pre-snap was calculated at 95 percent; after the Kendricks fumble recovery it dropped to just 19 percent — a 76-percent decrease.
The play itself also did something else, though, at least from a New England Patriots-centric point of view: it brought back memories of one of the most underrated Super Bowl plays in recent memory.
The situation was a similar one for the Patriots at the end of Super Bowl XLIX. Malcolm Butler had just intercepted the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson in the end zone to seemingly secure a 28-24 victory.
In the words of NBC color commentator Cris Collinsworth, “you gotta get it outta here, though.”
New England did “get it outta here”, but not by attempting a sneak or similar play. Instead, they used the Seahawks’ aggressiveness against them: they simply delayed the snap, causing Seattle’s Michael Bennett to jump across the line for a defensive 5-yard penalty.
The Bills' late-game blunder against the Vikings brought back memories of one of the most underrated plays in Patriots history. pic.twitter.com/f1qBTYGE4W— Bernd Buchmasser (@BerndBuchmasser) November 14, 2022
The Vikings were more disciplined on Sunday than the Seahawks were back in February 2015, but the fact remains. The Patriots tried no to outmuscle their opponent in that situation, but rather outsmart them.
The Bills, did neither, and it cost them.