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Sunday, September 12, 2010
Chan Gailey's late punt was right call

By Tim Graham

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- There was a spirited debate in the Ralph Wilson Stadium press box Sunday about Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey's decision to take a safety from his own 1-yard line with 93 seconds left and down by three points to the Miami Dolphins.

The Bills eventually lost 15-10.

The discussion wasn't only about Gailey's choice to take the safety, but also about whether he should have gone for it on fourth-and-10 with a quarterback who wasn't having the best afternoon.

Some in the media insisted Gailey should have gone for it, that gaining 10 yards on one play was a more likely scenario to survive.

To me, the choice was a no-brainer. The Bills had to either punt or take the safety and free kick. With the wind in their face, a free kick gave them more room to operate and gain some field position.

A failed fourth-down conversion would have given the Dolphins an almost certain touchdown with the running backs they have. At the very least, the Dolphins would have drained the clock, gotten the Bills to take their final two timeouts and kicked a field goal to win by six points.

"To me, [the safety] gave us the better chance to win the game," Gailey explained. "To go for it on fourth-and-10 at the 1-yard line. ... If you give it to them there, in my opinion, there's no chance to win because, at worst, they take a knee and you get it back at the same place in less time. But if they score a touchdown you've got no chance."

Gailey had no problem sacrificing the safety.

"I know the field goal might have given us a better chance," Gailey said of potentially tying the game. "But that's the decisions you make in life."

Besides, Gailey's strategy actually worked. The Bills held the Dolphins to a three-and-out and got the ball back on their own 20-yard line with 29 seconds to go.

Granted, that's not the ideal situation. Still, Gailey did manufacture another possession.

It was a wasted opportunity, but an opportunity nonetheless.

Trent Edwards threw three incomplete passes and then tossed to David Nelson for a 9-yard gain as time expired.

So what situation would you rather have:

Fourth-and-10 from your 1-yard line with 1:33 on the clock and two timeouts?

Or first-and-10 from your 20 with 29 seconds left and no timeouts?