What We Saw: Bills at Titans

Rich Holman takes a look at what stood out from Tuesday night's game featuring the Bills and Titans.

Bills at Titans

 

We got a Tuesday night treat as we saw a clash of undefeated teams to end Week 5. Most of the talk pre-game was about how the Titans would look considering their COVID layoff and the number of players missing due to COVID. That talk ended early thanks to the first of three short-fields provided by Buffalo turnovers. Ultimately, the Titans winning the turnover battle 3-0 and scoring 21 points off of those turnovers proved to be the difference as Tennessee remained undefeated following a convincing 42-16 victory. Let’s dive in to see what we saw.

 

Buffalo Bills

 

Quarterback

 

Josh Allen: 26/41, 263 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 1 sack | 4 carries, 18 yards

Matt Barkley: 3/5, 22 yards

 

This is the first time we’ve seen the Bills offense in catch up mode this year. During the broadcast, the graphic flashed that in their first 4 games, the Bills trailed for just 9 minutes and 30 seconds. Josh Allen in a negative game script was not great. Once the Titans were able to pin down their ears and just focus on getting pressure on the quarterback, Allen was hurried often and didn’t have the time in the pocket to get the ball downfield. In fact, after the 1st quarter, Allen threw just two deep passes out of 28 attempts.

Josh Allen increased his interception total from one to three on the season, but only one of the picks was his fault. Overall the Titans did a good job of mixing up their coverage and Allen struggled to defeat their zone.

 

 

His team did him no favors as I counted at least four dropped passes including one that led to an interception. In sports, you often hear about how important routine is to players. I wonder if because this game was played on Tuesday that Allen and the Bills were thrown off their routine. Another thought is that the Bills looked past the Titans, thinking they were going to be short-handed because of COVID while looking to next week’s marquee matchup with the Chiefs.

 

Running Backs

 

Devin Singletary: 11 carries, 25 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 8 yards

T.J. Yeldon: 7 carries, 52 yards | 3 targets, 1 reception, 22 yards, 1 TD

 

A negative game script helped mask a Titans rush defense that had allowed the second-most rushing yards per game. The Bills gave the Titans three short fields from turnovers and a fourth from a long punt return. And the Titans capitalized by scoring touchdowns on all four possessions. The consequences from the Bills’ perspective was having to abandon the run. Sorry managers with Devin Singletary on your team, this week was not your week. With Zack Moss missing his third consecutive game with a toe injury, T.J. Yeldon served as Singletary’s primary backup. While Yeldon’s final line looks impressive, he piled up 38 rushing yards and two targets on the Bills final drive with Matt Barkley at the helm. As if it wasn’t bad enough that Singletary was a dud, the salt in the wound was this touchdown reception by Yeldon.

 

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Stefon Diggs: 16 targets, 10 receptions, 106 yards

Gabriel Davis: 9 targets, 5 receptions, 58 yards

Cole Beasley: 6 targets, 6 receptions, 53 yards

Andre Roberts: 2 targets, 1 reception, 16 yards, 1 fumble lost

Dawson Knox: 3 targets, 1 reception, 15 yards

Isaiah McKenzie: 4 targets, 4 receptions, 7 yards, 1 TD

 

Stefon Diggs benefitted from the Bills being without John Brown. The ultra-negative game script helped as well, but 16 targets are nothing to sneeze at. I don’t want to take anything away from Diggs or his workload, but 15 of his 16 targets were “short” with just one “deep” target being the following 19-yard reception.

 

 

Gabriel Davis saw the second-most targets for the Bills. He’s stepped up really nicely with John Brown on the mend. He saw two deep targets and had a third on a nullified 23-yard touchdown reception due to illegal formation. Such a pretty catch for the rookie wideout.

 

 

Cole Beasley didn’t even have a target in the first half, but once Josh Allen realized he was on the field, he became his favorite receiver for a stretch. He left the game briefly and was seen getting stretched out on the sidelines, but did return to the game.

Andre Roberts had himself a night to forget. The turnover that shows up in the stat column is the fumble lost on a kickoff return. The one that doesn’t is this awful drop that turned into Josh Allen’s first interception. That pick kind of set the tone for the game.

 

 

This play sums up Isaiah McKenzie’s role in this offense – a gadget play to get the ball in his hands and show off his speed.

 

 

Tennessee Titans

 

Quarterback

 

Ryan Tannehill: 21/28, 195 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, 0 sacks | 4 carries, 42 yards, 1 TD

 

Everyone had Ryan Tannehill with 4 TDs tonight, right? The Titans offense runs through Derrick Henry and that sets Tannehill up to succeed. During the broadcast, they mentioned that the Titans have run the 4th most play-action passes in the league and that rate should increase after this game. Tannehill was the perfect game manager in this game. When the Bills put pressure on him, he knew the right time to run or when to throw the ball away. He didn’t take a sack and didn’t turn the ball over. The Titans are now a +8 in turnover ratio.

The Bills handed the Titans short fields all night and Tannehill did what was necessary to capitalize on those turnovers. And as an out-of-shape dad, I really appreciate the touchdown celebration on his rushing touchdown.

 

 

Running Backs

 

Derrick Henry: 19 carries, 57 yards, 2 TDs | 2 targets, 1 reception, 6 yards

Jeremy McNichols: 9 carries, 28 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 3 yards

Darrynton Evans: 2 carries, 12 yards

 

The Bills did a good job of holding down Derrick Henry for three quarters. Well, except for Josh Norman.

 

 

While Henry didn’t rack up the yardage, the Titans offense still ran through him as they went to their patented play-action fake all game. Following a 40-yard Kalif Raymond punt return, Henry capped off the Titans second short-field touchdown of the night.

You can only expect a defense to be able to contain Henry for so long though, as Henry added 25 yards and a second score in his work in the 4th quarter. Henry only played in their first series of the fourth quarter and got the rest of the night off with the Titans up big. Jeremy McNichols got the cleanup work (4 carries) with Henry out of the game. Darrynton Evans left the game with a hamstring injury which is why McNichols saw so much run.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

A.J. Brown: 9 targets, 7 receptions, 82 yards, 1 TD

Jonnu Smith: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 40 yards, 2 TD

Kalif Raymond: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 26 yards

Anthony Firkser: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 19 yards

Cody Hollister: 1 target, 1 reception, 12 yards

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine: 1 target, 1 reception, 7 yards

 

Unless you were ignoring the only football game yesterday, you already know A.J. Brown is back baby! The sophomore WR benefited from the Titans being without Corey Davis and Adam Humphries as Ryan Tannehill fed Brown early and often. Following an early Josh Allen interception that set the Titans up with a short field, Tannehill found Brown on this gorgeous hesitation double-move for his first catch and touchdown of the season.

 

 

I’ve watched this play a lot and the route is no doubt awesome, but something that’s underrated is that Brown gives minimal indication that the ball is coming his way. He keeps his hands relatively low and doesn’t give Josh Norman any indication that the balls in the air. Really veteran move by a young receiver.

Jonnu Smith, red zone expert. Smith found pay dirt twice and had an additional 13-yard reception called back by an offensive pass interference call on Nick Westbrook-Ikhine. Here’s Smith’s second touchdown which looked to me like Tannehill was beyond the line of scrimmage.

 

 

Kalif Raymond’s impact on this game goes beyond just his receiving numbers, but let’s start there. Raymond had a huge 20-yard reception on a 3rd and 20 that kept the Titans second touchdown drive going. Raymond’s other contribution was in the return game, where he totaled 75 return yards including this 40-yard return that set up yet another Titans’ short-field.

 

 

Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis

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