Arrow Up/Arrow Down: Bills-Titans

The Bills improve to 4-1 heading into the bye week

Sal Capaccio
October 06, 2019 - 10:34 pm
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After a week away from starting with the arrows up, we’re back that way again after the Buffalo Bills' 14-7 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday that moved them to 4-1 on the season.

 

ARROW UP:

  • Josh Allen

Taking into consideration his decision-making and passing all together, the Bills quarterback played probably his best overall half football for the first 30 minutes, going 17-of-21 for 146 yards and a touchdown pass. He made one crucial mistake by throwing a ball he shouldn’t early in the third quarter that resulted in an interception. Other than that, Allen took what the defense gave him, didn’t try to force the issue, took sacks, and threw the ball away when needed. He finished the game 23-of-32 (71.8%) for 219 yards and 2 touchdowns passing, plus another 19 yards on the ground. A solid performance for Allen coming off a week of being in concussion protocol.
 

  • WR - Duke Williams

Williams played in his first game, got his first NFL start, caught his first NFL pass, and scored his first NFL touchdown. A heck of a day for the former Auburn and Canadian Football League standout, who fans have been clamoring to see for weeks. They finally got what they wanted, and the Nissan Stadium crowd showed him the love by constantly yelling “Duuuuuke” when he made a play. Williams grabbed four balls for 29 yards and a touchdown.
 

  • WR - John Brown’s first half

Brown was a big part of the Bills offense early in the game, catching five passes for 75 yards in the first half. He didn’t have a target in the second half.
 

  • DT - Jordan Phillips

The Bills defense has been so good all season, but they haven’t put up great sack numbers. Phillips almost single-handedly changed that with three sacks of his own. That’s really impressive for an interior lineman. On top of that, Phillips also had three quarterback hurries.
 

  • RB - Frank Gore in crunch time

Gore had only 24 yards rushing through three quarters of play. He ran for 36 yards in the final 4:12 of the game, even though the Titans knew the Bills were going to pound the ball into him.
 

  • DE - Darryl Johnson

Johnson recorded his first-ever NFL sack, getting to Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota on the very first play of the drive after the Bills took their 14-7 lead. Prior to that, he blocked the Titans' 33-yard field goal attempt that would have put Tennessee up early in the fourth quarter.
 

  • P - Corey Bojorquez

Bojorquez was booming the ball all day, including a 64-yarder that went for a touchback. He punted six times total, for a whopping 50.0-yard gross average. Bojorquez was also very good at putting the ball where he needed to, using hang time to pin the Titans inside their 20-yard line four different times.
 

  • The presence of returner Andre Roberts

The Titans showed Roberts so much respect they consistently were willing to give the Bills better field position by punting it away from him and out of bounds. Only one Bills drive started inside their 25-yard line following a Titans punt. Roberts’ presence alone made a difference.
 

  • Third down defense

The Titans converted only 4-of-14 third down attempts (29%). They were 0-for-6 on third downs in the first half.
 

  • Pass defense

Marcus Mariota had a rough day, finishing only 13-of-22 passing for 183 yards and no interceptions, and was sacked five times.
 

  • Creative play-calling on touchdown drive

With the game tied in the fourth quarter and the Bills facing a 1st-and-10 at their own 40-yard line, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll went to the jet sweep to Isaiah McKenzie, who raced down the sidelines for 46 yards. Two plays later, he called a very creative inside handoff to Andre Roberts, faking that same jet sweep to get the defense to bite. Roberts ran for seven yards, which set the Bills up for the game-winning touchdown pass to Williams.
 

  • Jon Feliciano, Ryan Bates, and Spencer Long

With offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe already inactive, the Bills then lost center Mitch Morse to an ankle injury before halftime, forcing Jon Feliciano to move from guard to center, and Spencer Long to come in to play right guard. Then starting offensive tackle Cody Ford suffered an injury, which moved Ryan Bates off the bench to play right tackle for the entire fourth quarter. The group did a good job in spots they haven’t played much in 2019.

 

ARROW DOWN:

  • Play-calling on second to last drive

After the Bills blocked the Titans' field goal attempt with 6:31 left, they had a touchdown lead and the ball. Tennessee hadn’t been able to move the ball on the Bills defense all day. So a good, time-consuming drive (even without resulting in any points) could be the nail to win the game. However, Daboll called passes on first and second down, which were both incomplete, only running 10-seconds off the clock. Then a short pass on third down gained only one yard and the Bills punted back to the Titans, who got the ball with 5:27 left.
 

  • Titans tight end screen 

Tennessee did a great job to catch the Bills defense with a tight end screen for a 57-yard gain late in the fourth quarter. The Bills defense didn’t diagnose it well, react quick enough, or tackle well enough on the big play.
 

  • Penalties

The Bills committed 11 penalties costing them 78 yards. That’s far too many, and especially because some were at critical times both on offense and defense.
 

  • Quarterback sneak on second fourth down

The Bills had just converted a 4th-and-1 with Josh Allen taking the ball on a quarterback sneak. Four plays later, they were faced with another fourth down on the Titans' 31-yard line, but with almost a yard further to go to get the first down. Daboll called another quarterback sneak and the Titans were sitting and waiting on it. I like the aggressiveness of head coach Sean McDermott to go for it twice in the same drive, but it was just four plays and exactly one minute of game time after the first one. Daboll should have called something with a different look.

 

THE BIG PICTURE:

From the bars on Broadway to the stands at Nissan Stadium, Nashville surely became “Bills Country” this weekend. 

It was pretty amazing how many Bills fans were in the city and then at the game. In fact, in my now six years as the team’s radio sideline reporter, it was the most fans I have ever seen at an away game. Bills fans should be proud of their presence and enthusiasm. They were actually loud enough to impact the game while the Titans were on offense - they had four false starts in their own stadium.  

Bills fans should also be very proud of their team for how they performed in Tennessee. They had just played a very emotional game, and lost against the New England Patriots seven days prior and had to go on the road to face a very physical Titans team, with a bye week coming up. It would be easy to see where a let down could occur, but it didn’t. 

Josh Allen was in concussion protocol all week, yet, he came out dialed in and on target. 

Then, players started dropping during the game. Mitch Morse. Cody Ford. Matt Milano. Ed Oliver. Jordan Poyer. Trent Murphy. All either needed assistance on the field at some point, or left the game completely.

Then came the backups. Spencer Long. Ryan Bates. Maurice Alexander. Kurt Coleman. A couple of them were even already playing for others who were hurt.  

So, essentially, the Bills were using several primarily special teams and third string players for critical moments of the game. But there was no panic. There was really no drop-off. They were all prepared and did their jobs well. That’s a credit to them, of course, but also to a coaching staff that’s preached preparation and accountability throughout the entire roster since they arrived.

That preparation and play has now got this team to 4-1 with a bye week ahead, then three home games in a row, including games against the winless Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins. The Philadelphia Eagles are sandwiched between them. To start the season, it would have been considered a nice first half to be 5-3. Now, it will probably be considered a disappointment if they don’t hit the halfway point at least 6-2.  

The bye week comes at the right time, considering all the injuries from Sunday. Others like running back Devin Singletary and cornerback Taron Johnson, who both missed another game, now get an extra two weeks to heal. It may also come at the right time for fans who want to soak it all in and enjoy seeing their team in the driver’s seat of the AFC Wild Card picture after five weeks. The best part is - no matter what happens around the league next week, the Bills will still own that first wild card spot by themselves.

There’s a lot of season to play, but for the next two weeks, Bills fans can think back on and enjoy what they’ve seen, take a deep breath, and relax. You deserve it.  





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