This is one way to bait your opponent into a penalty.
In a scoreless game late in the first half on Sunday, Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox moved in motion then lined up under center on fourth-and-1. C.J. Mosley was ready to make a play. Just a little too early.
The Jets linebacker leapt over the line of scrimmage, then grabbed Knox and slammed him to the turf. There was just one problem. The ball hadn’t been snapped yet. Officials flagged Mosley for the obvious and violent encroachment. Knox celebrated as the Bills secured a first down.
It appeared to be the rare NFL moment when a team successfully baits an opponent with pre-snap movement on a fourth down in which they don’t intend to snap the ball. Would the Bills have actually run a play absent the penalty? It’s certainly possible. But they were inside their own 40-yard line in a scoreless game. The downside of the risk in that moment with halftime looming didn’t exactly call for a roll of the dice.
The Bills made the most of their second chance. They picked up 55 more yards after the penalty, including five on a Jets defensive hold that set up another first down at New York’s 24-yard line. Buffalo scored a touchdown on the very next play en route to a 20-12 win. The score was secured by none other than Knox, who followed up his successful fourth-down penalty inducement with a 24-yard scoring pass from Josh Allen.