On a day that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was nowhere near a hindrance to the team's efforts to win, the abysmal defense of the Buffalo Bills let down in a major way as the Bills fell to the Tennessee Titans, 35-34, at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Unfortunately, the waning moments of the game - which saw Fitzpatrick throw one of his patented untimely interceptions and miss badly on a fourth down throw that effectively ended the game - will be all that anyone remembers of what otherwise was one of the best games of Fitzpatrick's pro career. Even counting those final minutes, Fitzpatrick completed 27-of-35 passes for 225 yards with three touchdowns and the aforementioned pick.
While there will undoubtedly be focus on Fitzpatrick's late-game mishaps - the interception set up the go-ahead score for Tennessee - the much, much, much bigger letdown for the team was its horrific defense. The Titans ran for 197 yards (195 of them coming from Chris Johnson, highlighted by an 83-yard touchdown), got another 205 from Matt Hasselbeck and the passing attack, and threw up five touchdowns on the board. Four of those touchdowns came against the pathetic run defense, and Hasselbeck's lone passing touchdown to Nate Washington put the Titans ahead for good with less than two minutes remaining. Tennessee punted three times all day.
Were it not for a strong outing from Fitzpatrick, the usual excellent work turned in by running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller (who combined for 141 yards on 21 carries and 81 yards and a touchdown on 14 receptions), and a first quarter kickoff return for a touchdown from Brad Smith, Buffalo would have been blown out of their own stadium this afternoon. We can talk about all of Buffalo's various ailments at length - we have, and we will - but at this point, the root of the team's problem is clearly the defense. Teams with a defense this bad can only hope to be competitive on Sundays. They're certainly not playoff-caliber.
Buffalo enters its bye week with a 3-4 record after the monumentally disappointing loss, and their next two games come on the road at Houston and New England. Expectations are shifting in Buffalo, and not for the better. It must be almost November.