This was essentially the 2018 version of the 2017 Browns game. Coming off a big emotional win, the Titans went on the road, played a bad team, and completely laid an egg on the offensive side of the ball. I specify “the offensive side of the ball” because the Titans defense deserved to win this game. The Bills offense averaged just 3.5 yards per play. Were there frustrating moments where the Titans defense struggled to tackle Bills backs LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory? Sure. There’s no doubt that Wesley Woodyard and Kenny Vaccaro were missed, but any time your defense holds a quarterback to 4.3 yards per attempt and allow just 3.3 yards per carry on the ground, that’s a pretty good day. The Titans defense didn’t allow a single Bills drive of more than 47 yards all game.
Special teams were good as well so this loss belongs squarely on the Titans offense. Turnovers led to 10 of the Bills’ 13 points, making the Titans offense as much a hindrance as a help in this game. This is a painful loss for a team that appeared to be putting it all together a week ago. Here are the winners and losers from the game.
Jackson was excellent in coverage all game and made one of the biggest plays of the day when he popped the ball away from Andre Holmes and grabbed the interception, setting up Ryan Succop’s go ahead field goal in the 4th quarter. It was a huge play and Jackson continues to be one of the best players on the Titans defense.
Henry hasn’t had a great start to 2018, but he was the best part of the Titans offense in Buffalo. He finished with 56 yards on 11 carries with many of those coming after contact. He played really well in this game and I have no idea why he wasn’t used more.
I rarely even saw Butler during the game which is usually a good thing for a cornerback. He also was a part of a pass defense that allowed just 79 (79!!!) passing yards. At the very least, Butler avoided getting torched for a long touchdown this week. That alone qualifies as a win for him given how his season has gone so far.
Succop was money today. He went 4 for 4 on field goal attempts, including a 54 yard kick. He’s having another good season and when you look at the kicking struggles around the NFL it’s nice to have someone you can count on in a big spot.
We just spent the last few weeks praising the Titans offensive coordinator, but he deserves some heavy criticism this week for a game plan that seemed to lack much of a plan at all. Most confounding to me, was the lack of interest in sticking with Derrick Henry on the ground when he was clearly the more effective back. Lewis struggled to get going all game and put the ball on the ground for a costly turnover. I don’t think they should have benched him outright, but I certainly thought we should have seen more Henry.
I also thought the lack of designed runs for Mariota was strange. I know the Titans don’t want to over rely on their quarterback’s legs, but he’s a very effective weapon that could have helped in a game where not much was effective for the offense. The defense did enough to win this game, but the offense let them down.
Correa had a really really really bad game. First, he lost contain on the backside of a Josh Allen bootleg which allowed the Bills quarterback to get free and take it in for a 17-yard touchdown. As the backside defender against a mobile QB, you simply can’t have that happen, especially on a 2nd and 10 play.
Correa also dropped what looked like it would have been a huge pick-6 on the busted fake field goal attempt by the Bills. The ball goes right off his hands with nothing but green grass ahead of him.
He tacked on an inexcusable unnecessary roughness call for hitting Josh Allen on the sideline. It was a brutal day for Correa.
Williams made a big play with his long punt return that set up an early field goal, but he dropped an easy touchdown on a beautiful throw from Mariota. It’s the second week in a row the Titans have had a back breaking drop from a wide open receiver. It didn’t cost them last week, but it caught up with them in Buffalo. If Williams catches that ball it’s almost certainly an ugly Titans win that we’re talking about instead of an ugly Titans loss.
Williams also failed to cross the face of Bills nickel corner Taron Johnson which caused Mariota’s interception. Those are two huge swings in this game and they are both concentration lapses that just can’t happen.
First, I don’t think Mariota played terribly. The interception was really on Nick Williams and of course he was once again let down by a huge drop, but he certainly didn’t play well either. The 14 of 26 for 129 yards stat line isn’t going to get it done. The Titans QB appeared rattled by the Bills early pressure in this game, often looking uncomfortable in the pocket.
Mariota passed up several opportunities to take deep shots down the field as the Bills appeared to be willing to sit back and make the Titans string together short completions rather than risk giving up a chunk play. It was just a very safe and, frankly, boring effort from the Titans quarterback on a day where they needed more from him. He also took a terrible delay of game penalty on a 3rd and 4 that was followed by timeout and then a sack that forced Succop’s field goal back to 54 yards. The kicker bailed him out, but that was a terrible sequence from Mariota.
Taywan Taylor and Dion Lewis
The one way the Titans were going to lose this game was to give up dumb turnovers and help the Bills anemic offense out and that’s exactly what these guys did. The Bills did a good job ripping at the ball every time they tackled, but these weren’t helmet-on-the-ball type fluke fumbles, they were just sloppy plays by two guys that the Titans need to be playmakers.