Two key decisions came back to haunt Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich in Saturday’s AFC wild-card game against the Buffalo Bills.
The Colts played a strong first half in Buffalo, and looked like they had a good chance of taking a lead into the locker room at halftime. In fact, with 3:15 left and a 10-7 lead, the Colts had a first and goal from the Bills’ 4-yard line and a chance to go up by 10.
That’s where things got a bit strange. The Colts got it to the 2-yard line on first down, but then Reich got a bit too cute. Instead of giving it to Jonathan Taylor, the Colts ran a direct snap to Nyheim Hines on second down, which picked up only a yard. Then, on third and goal at the 1, instead of giving it to Taylor and trying to pound it in, the Colts ran an ill-fated toss to Taylor that lost three yards.
Most controversially, Reich opted to go for it on the ensuing fourth and goal, and the ensuing pass play fell incomplete. This proved to be a huge turning point, as the Bills promptly went 96 yards on the next drive to score a touchdown that put them ahead.
I didn't expect Colts to win today, but it's gonna take me a long time to get over that Frank Reich goal line series.
— Collin McCollough (@cmccollo) January 9, 2021
Reich did it again in the second half. With 11:32 left in the fourth quarter, the Colts scored a touchdown to get within 24-16 of the Bills. Buffalo committed a neutral zone infraction on the extra point, and Reich opted to take the penalty and go for two from the 1-yard line. Taylor was stuffed, and the Colts were left trailing by eight.
— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) January 9, 2021
The only way I like going for 2 there is if it works. There are risks you like, even if they don't work. THAT WAS NOT ONE OF THEM BY FRANK REICH.
— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelStar) January 9, 2021
Reich is known as an aggressive play-caller who takes risks. Some even praised him for his boldness on these decisions, and he’d be hailed for his gutsiness if they worked. Ultimately, they didn’t, and he’s facing a lot of second-guessing.