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Jeff Fisher made a stupidly cautious call when his team needed a risk and a stupidly risky call when his team needed caution

Jeff Fisher made a pair of questionable calls late, and the Rams lost.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Fisher promised the Rams wouldn’t go 7-9 or 8-8 again, and after a surprising 3-1 start, it looked like he might have been telling the truth. But Fisher’s late-game mismanagement harmed Los Angeles in a winnable game against the Bills on Sunday.

Sometimes we criticize coaches for being too meek, or too risky. But in a span of three minutes, Fisher managed to play the wrong side of the coin twice. He played it safe when his team needed him to be brave, and was overly brave when his team needed him to play it safe.

Bad decision No. 1: Fisher kicks a FG from the 3-yard line down 7 with 5:55 to go

The Rams found themselves needing a touchdown, and found themselves on the doorstep of getting one. For most of the fourth quarter, Los Angeles drove, going 89 yards over eight minutes to get down to the 3-yard line.

And with six minutes to go, Fisher asked his team to kick a field goal, cutting the lead to 23-19.

It’s easy to explain why this is a poor decision. They needed a touchdown, and chose not to attempt to score a touchdown.

If they had gone for the touchdown and missed, they would have needed to get a stop and score a touchdown. Instead, they kicked a field goal, meaning that ... they needed to get a stop and score a touchdown.

If Fisher had gone for it and missed, the Rams would have at least been able to preserve field position. (When you absolutely need a touchdown, field position is pretty important.) Instead, Fisher opted for a strategy that would require his team’s methodical offense to go the length of the field with the clock ticking. They never got the ball into Bills territory again.

But Fisher made a worse decision!

Bad decision No. 2: Fisher opts for a fake punt on fourth-and-5 from his own 23 with 3:47 to go

Fisher looked vindicated when Los Angeles got a stop. Hooray! They’d get the ball back! But they went three-and-out just as quickly, needing a punt.

Instead, they went with this fake:

The play was doomed from the moment Buffalo expected a fake, with the Bill covering the Rams’ gunner instantly ditching his only blocker and forcing the ballcarrier upfield. But whatever, this isn’t an issue of play design.

Should Fisher have punted? I mean, that’s not a great idea, either. Time was running out, and they might never have seen the ball again if they’d kicked it away. Personally, I think the Rams probably would have been best off if they’d tried getting 5 yards with their actual offense rather than hoping the Bills would fall asleep against the punt team.

But the fake punt really shows the silliness of Fisher’s earlier decision. The team needed a touchdown. Fisher could’ve asked his offense to go 3 yards to get one, but he didn’t, and instead was left asking his punt team to pick up 5 yards in hopes that his offense would pick up 70 yards after a successful conversion.

There’s no guarantee the Rams would’ve won if Fisher made better choices. But his decisions definitely made it easier for Los Angeles to lose.