It's probably a good thing Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan did not check from a pass to a run play on the Falcons' final play from scrimmage Sunday.
The Bills had 10 defensive players on the field for the incomplete pass to receiver Taylor Gabriel. WGR's Sal Capaccio first pointed out the alignment.
After an incompletion on third down with 49 seconds left, Atlanta switched from a three-receiver set to its base personnel, with two receivers and a fullback on the field. The Bills did not switch defensive personnel, sticking with its nickel defense, which included third cornerback Leonard Johnson.
But Bills coach Sean McDermott called time out before the play. Atlanta stayed in its base personnel for fourth down. Buffalo switched its defensive line, subbing stouter defensive tackles Kyle Williams and Cedric Thornton for Jerel Worthy and Ryan Davis. Jerry Hughes and Lorenzo Alexander were at defensive end. Preston Brown and Matt Milano were the linebackers. But Johnson didn't re-enter the game.
Atlanta called a play-action pass. Ryan wanted to hit receiver Justin Hardy on a slant to the left. But Shareece Wright had tight coverage, and safety Micah Hyde anticipated the look and veered into the passing lane. That forced Ryan to look right, where his pass for Gabriel, covered by Tre'Davious White, fell incomplete.
A run play off tackle with the fullback leading the way may well have worked for Atlanta.
As to why the Bills only had 10 men on the field, McDermott said this Monday:
McDermott says substitutions is another area the team can improve when asked why there were only 10 players on for the last defensive play.
— Jay Skurski (@JaySkurski) October 2, 2017