The Tennessee Titans hadn’t played in 16 days, but they showed no signs of rust on Tuesday night. In fact, it was the Buffalo Bills who looked off, as the Titans coasted to a 42-16 victory to wrap up Week 5 and remain undefeated. Ryan Tannehill was outstanding, as he passed for 195 yards, three touchdowns and rushed for 42 yards and another score. He was in total control of the offense and kept the chains moving even though he was missing two of his top three wideouts due to the coronavirus.
As for the Bills, Josh Allen came into this matchup having thrown just one interception in the first four games of the new season, but threw two to Malcolm Butler tonight. It was a determining factor in this matchup, as Buffalo’s defense struggled to stop Derrick Henry and Tannehill all night. The Titans were clearly excited to return to the field on Tuesday after their COVID-19 outbreak, while the Bills’ performance raised several questions about their potential this year.
Why the Titans won
The Titans came into this game with a bottom-three defense in the league, as they allowed an average of 422.3 yards per game. Their secondary was especially questionable, as they were without their best cornerback in Adoree’ Jackson and another important role player in Kristian Fulton. Allen and the Bills came into the game boasting the No. 2 passing offense in the league, as they averaged 316.3 passing yards per game and 30.8 points per game — which ranked No. 5 in the league. Despite this, Tennessee’s defense held Allen to 263 passing yards and picked him off twice. It was impressive, especially considering the secondary was viewed as the Titans’ main weakness even with a fully healthy roster.
Why the Bills lost
Buffalo’s defense carried the Bills to a playoff appearance last year, but this unit has struggled early on in the 2020 season. The secondary came into this matchup allowing an average of 280.3 passing yards per game, which ranked fourth-worst in the league. On Tuesday night, this unit was missing star cornerback Tre’Davious White, and it certainly showed. Taron Johnson allowed a huge conversion on third and long and then gave up a 16-yard reception to A.J. Brown that allowed the Titans to get to Buffalo’s two yard-line in the first half, and Josh Norman racked up a couple of penalties in coverage and was thrown to the ground by Henry when trying to step up in run support. Basically, every Titans receiver — whether wideout, running back or tight end — got the separation they were looking for no matter what kind of route they were running. Tannehill connected with more receivers (eight) than incompletions he threw (seven).
Play of the game
If you haven’t seen it yet, definitely take a look at this play. In the second quarter, Henry got a carry on an outside counter, which set up a 1-on-1 with cornerback Josh Norman on the edge. The veteran tried to bring Henry down before he reached the first down marker but was no match for the defending league rushing champion. Norman — who met Henry at the line of scrimmage — received a stiff arm that quite literally sent him flying. Ultimately, the play was called back due to offsetting penalties, but it didn’t matter. This was all anyone on social media could talk about on Tuesday night.
It appeared the Bills were orchestrating a nice drive to cut the deficit to single digits late in the third quarter, but Allen then threw his second interception of the game to Butler, and he returned it all the way to the Bills’ 12-yard line. A few plays later, Tannehill hit Jonnu Smith for a four-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 18 points.
If the Titans didn’t have all of the momenta before that quick turn of events, everyone could agree they had it at the end of the third quarter. At that point, it became clear that Tuesday night belonged to Tennessee.
The Bills head back to Buffalo next week, where they will host the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday afternoon. Patrick Mahomes and Co. are coming off of a 40-32 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. As for the Titans, they will host the Houston Texans next Sunday, who just recorded their first victory of the season — a 30-14 divisional win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.