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Buffalo Bills 16, Tennessee Titans 42: Rapid recap and notes

Good luck finding a positive from this game.

After hearing about the COVID-19 petri dish in Nashville, there wasn’t a single Buffalo Bills fan who was looking forward to seeing their team play a thrice-rescheduled game against the Tennessee Titans.

Apparently, the Buffalo Bills weren’t interested in playing, either.

The Bills suffered clutch defeat after clutch defeat, looking like a shell of the 4-0 team that flew into Tennessee, and fell behind 28-10 in the fourth quarter before eventually falling to the Titans, 42-16.

The tone of the game was set immediately. On Buffalo’s third play from scrimmage, Josh Allen threw to an open receiver, just as he’s done for the first for weeks of the season. Only that open receiver wasn’t John Brown (knee injury, inactive). It was Andre Roberts, who flubbed the catch. The ball bounced straight to Malcolm Butler, who carried the gift interception into the red zone.

Field position was a massive pain point for the Bills, thanks to two interceptions, a major punt return, and a fumbled kickoff return. The Titans scored touchdowns on a 30-yard drive, an 18-yard drive, a 16-yard drive, and a 12-yard drive

From start to finish, if you were told that one team hadn’t practiced in two weeks, you’d think it was the Bills. They committed ten penalties to Tennessee’s six, had two turnovers to Tennessee’s zero, and rushed for 2.9 yards per carry. The Bills couldn’t run block. They couldn’t get off blocks. They couldn’t tackle. They couldn’t catch. They didn’t sack Ryan Tannehill. They played like dogs—and not the gruff kind they like to talk up.

The missing injured players were a clear problem for the Bills. The defense, missing Tre’Davious White, Matt Milano, and Levi Wallace, had no killer instinct and no clutch play. The Bills’ mantra is “next man up,” but apparently no one bothered. Andre Roberts gave up an interception and fumbled away a kickoff return. Josh Norman was posterized by Derrick Henry’s stiff arm. A.J. Klein looked at an incoming running back and jumped the wrong direction at the goal line.

And there aren’t any excuses, because the Titans were just as short-staffed. No Jeffery Simmons. No Adoree Jackson or Kristian Fulton. No Corey Davis or Adam Humphries. The Bills were rolled over like roadkill. It’s an embarrassment on national television, and the Bills deserve every bit of criticism they receive in the next week.

Good riddance to this game.

Injury Notes

  • Buffalo pride.

Miscellaneous

  • Two events both summed up this game, one on offense, and one on defense.
  • On offense, Allen led the Bills on a 14-play, 64-yard drive while trailing 21-10 in the third quarter. Starting from their three-yard line, we might add. It was the perfect tone-setter, and then Allen made his worst throw of the season—directly at Malcolm Butler. He took that pass to the 16-yard line, and Tennessee scored a touchdown after that.
  • On defense, A.J. Epenesa came up with a great play to tackle the running back for a loss and force a 3rd-and-7. The next play, Tannehill drew him offsides and the rookie was pulled back to the bench. The Titans scored a touchdown four plays later.
  • The Bills don’t know how to run the football, even if they could. Devin Singletary had 11 carries for 25 yards. T.J. Yeldon had 5 for 14. (Until the last drive, when the backups went in and the Bills threw away game strategy) It’s mind-numbing to see them hand the ball off.
  • Shoutout to Stefon Diggs, who was force-fed the ball and caught ten passes for 106 yards. He wasn’t awful.
  • Cole Beasley was invisible in the first half, but one of the best receivers in the second half. He caught six for 53.
  • Gabriel Davis isn’t John Brown, but he did alright. He had five catches for 58 yards, and had a beautiful catch overridden by a penalty.
  • Corey Bojorquez is something special. He had a 71-yard punt. He also had a net 17-yard punt after outkicking his coverage. He was also called out as the problem with Tyler Bass’s missed kicks, and misplaced the laces on Bass’s field goal tonight.
  • Matt Barkley came in at the end of the game, after it was far out of reach, and nearly threw a pick-six right at Jadeveon Clowney.
  • It’s abso-bleeping-lutely ridiculous that this game was allowed to happen with zero punishment for the Tennessee Titans. The NFL is a racket and it has no true policy for COVID-19 protection. A team put the whole league at risk and were rewarded with a national television broadcast and a bye week. What a burning hunk of trash.