clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Takeaways: Bills come up short on defense, in red zone against Titans

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills lost a hard-fought game to the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football and now head into their bye on a sour note. What went wrong for Buffalo, the top scoring offense and the top scoring defense in the NFL? How can they avoid this sort of loss in the future? Let’s get to my takeaways.

Disappearing defense

The Titans punted with 5:15 left in the first quarter. It was the final time Tennessee punted all game. The defense allowed a multitude of conversions, but very few of them even got to third or fourth down. The Titans were just 4-of-10 on third downs and 1-of-1 on third downs. They just had their way with Buffalo on first and second down for the last 75 percent of the game. Buffalo led 20:15 to 9:45 in time of possession in the first half, but the Titans held the ball for 17 minutes of the second half. The elite scoring defense allowed 34 points, tied for the most in a regular-season game since they gave up 42 to Tennessee in Week 5 last year.

Fourth and game

Sure to be hotly debated. In the moment, I am thinking that the Bills have the better team. They should kick the field goal and head to overtime at 34-34. It’s 4th & 1 inside the Titans’ five. You have a big-ass Josh Allen as your quarterback who should be able to get a yard. You saw what happened; Allen slips, the Bills don’t convert, game over. But we just said the Bills hadn’t stopped the Titans from scoring on any drive since the first quarter. Buffalo had a chance to win it with a touchdown. A conversion with 20 seconds left gives them four shots at the end zone for the win. The longer I think about it, the more I like the decision to go for it and my first reaction was wrong. Also, Allen had only been held without a conversion on a botched snap before tonight, per ESPN.

Seeing red

Buffalo had a bigger time of possession. Buffalo had more total yards. The turnovers were equal. Buffalo held the Titans to 40 percent on third downs. Buffalo had 28 first downs to Tennessee’s 16. Buffalo ran 22 more plays. Do you know the biggest difference in the game? Tennessee was 3-of-3 in the red zone, scoring 21 points on their trips. Buffalo was 2-of-5, scoring two touchdown and two field goals plus the final turnover on downs. The Titans had more penalty yards on the night, but that kickoff return holding call was killer. Even so, the biggest stat was red zone conversion.

Beasley’s back

Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll called plays specifically for Cole Beasley on the first play of the game and another time on the opening drive. Two catches for 21 yards on that opening drive was just the beginning. At the end of the first half, Beasley snuck behind the Titans’ secondary for an easy touchdown to give Buffalo the lead. He finished with seven catches for 88 yards on the night, including the tuddie after just one target a week ago.

Halftime double dip

The Bills scored right before halftime, then got the ball back and scored on the first drive of the second half. Beasley’s touchdown gave them their 15th straight halftime lead, then a Tyler Bass 52-yard field goal gave them ten straight points with only one play by the Titans. It was just an inside handoff to Henry to end the half.