Arrow Up/Arrow Down - Bills at Titans

October 06, 2019 - 10:34 pm
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After a week away from starting with the arrows up, we're back the way again after the Bills 14-7 win over the Tennessee Titans moved them to 4-1 on the season.

ARROW UP

  • Josh Allen

Taking into consideration his decision-making and passing all together, the Bills QB played probably his best overall half football for the first thirty minutes, going 17-for-21 for 146 yards and a TD pass. He made one crucial mistake by throwing a ball he shouldn't early in the third quarter that resulted in an interception. But, otherwise, Allen took what the defense gave him, didn't try to force the issue, took sacks, and threw the ball away when needed. He finished the game 23-for-32 (71.8%) for 219 yards and 2 TDs passing, plus another 19 yards on the ground. A solid performance for Allen coming off a week of being in concussion protocol.

  • WR Duke Williams

Williams played in his first game, got his first NFL start, caught his first NFL pass, and scored his first NFL touchdown. A heck of a day for the former Auburn and CFL standout, who fans have been clamoring to see for weeks. They finally got what they wanted and the Nissan Stadium crowd showed him the love by constantly yelling "Duuuuuke" when he made a play. Williams grabbed 4 ball for 29 yards and a touchdown.

  • WR John Brown's first half

Brown was a big part of the Bills offense early in the game, catching 5 passes for 75 yards in the first half. He didn't have a target in the 2nd half.

  • DT Jordan Phillips

The Bills defense has been so good all season, but they haven't put up great sack numbers. Phillips almost single-handedly changed that with three sacks of his own. That's really impressive for an interior lineman. On top of that, Phillips also had three QB hurries.

  • RB Frank Gore in crunch time

Gore had only 24 yards rushing through three quarters of play. He ran for 36 yards in the final 4:12 of the game, even though the Titans knew the Bills were going to pound the ball into him.

  • DE Darryl Johnson

Johnson recorded his first-ever NFL sack, getting to Titans QB Marcus Mariota on the very first play of the drive after the Bills took their 14-7 lead. Prior to that, he blocked the Titans 33-yard field goal attempt that would have put Tennessee up early in the fourth quarter.

  • P Corey Bojorquez

Bojorquez was booming the ball all day, including a 64-yarder that went for a touchback. He punted 6 times total, for a whopping 50.0-yard gross average. But he was also very god at putting the ball where he needed to, using hang time to pin the Titans inside their 20-yard line four different times.

  • The presence of PR Andre Roberts

The Titans showed Roberts so much respect they consistently were willing to give the Bills better field position by punting it away from him and out of bounds. Only one Bills drive started inside their 25-yard line following a Titans punt. Roberts' presence alone made a difference.

  • 3rd down defense

The Titans converted only 4 of 14 third downs (29%). They were 0-for-6 on third downs in the first half.

  • Pass defense

Marcus Mariota had a rough day, finishing only 13-for-22 passing for 183 yards and no interceptions and was sacked five times.

  • Creative play-calling on TD drive

With the game tied in the fourth quarter and the Bills facing a 1st and 10 at their own 40-yard line, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll went to the jet sweep to Isaiah McKenzie, who raced down the sidelines for 46 yards. Two plays later, he called a very creative inside handoff to Andre Roberts, faking that same jet sweep to get the defense to bite. Roberts ran for 7 yards, which set the Bills up for the game winning TD pass to Duke Williams.

  • OL Jon Feliciano, Ryan Bates, and Spencer Long

With OT Ty Nsekhe already inactive, the Bills then lost center Mitch Morse to an ankle injury before halftime, forcing Jon Feliciano to move from guard to center and Spencer Long to come in to play right guard. Then starting OT Cody Ford suffered an injury, which moved Ryan Bates off the bench to play right tackle for the entire fourth quarter. The group did a good job in spots they haven't played much in 2019.


ARROW DOWN

  • Play-calling on 2nd to last drive

After the Bills blocked the Titans field goal attempt with 6:31 left, they had a touchdown lead and the ball. Tennessee hadn't been able to move the ball on the Bills defense all day. So a good, time-consuming drive (even without resulting in any points) could be the nail to win the game. But Daboll called passes on first and second down which were both incomplete, only running ten seconds off the clock. Then a short pass on third down gained only one yard and the Bills punted back to the Titans, who got the ball with 5:27 left.

  • Titans TE screen

Tennessee did a great job to catch the Bills defense with a tight end screen for a 57-yard gain late in the fourth quarter. The Bills defense didn't diagnose it well, react quick enough, or tackle well enough on the big play.

  • Penalties

The Bills committed 11 penalties costing them 78 yards. That's far too many, and especially because some were at critical times both on offense and defense.

  • QB sneak on second 4th down

The Bills had just converted a 4th and 1 with Josh Allen taking the ball on a QB sneak. Four plays later they were faced with another 4th down, on the Titans 31 yard line, but with almost a yard further to go to get the first down. Daboll called another QB sneak and the Titans were sitting and waiting on it. I like the aggressiveness of head coach Sean McDermott to go for it twice in the same drive, but It was just four plays and exactly one minute of game time after the first one. Daboll should have called something with a different look.


THE BIG PICTURE

From the bars on Broadway to the stands at Nissan Stadium, Nashville surely became "Bills Country" this weekend. It was pretty amazing ho many Bills fans were in the city and then at the game. In fact, in my now six years as the team's radio sideline reporter, it was the most fans I have ever seen at an away game. Bills fans should be proud of their presence and enthusiasm. They were actually loud enough to impact the game while the Titans were on offense - they had four false starts in their own stadium.

Bills fans should also be very proud of their team for how they performed in Tennessee. They had just played a very emotional game, and lost, against the Patriots seven days prior and had to go on the road to face a very physical Titans team, with a bye week coming up. It would be easy to see where a let down could occur. But it didn't. Josh Allen was in concussion protocol all week. Yet, he came out dialed in and on target drug the game. Then, players started dropping during the game. Mitch Morse. Cody Ford. Matt Milano. Ed Oliver. Jordan Poyer. Trent Murphy. All either needed assistance on the field at some point, or left the game completely. But here came the backups. Spencer Long. Ryan Bates. Maurice Alexander. Kurt Coleman. A couple of them were even already playing for others who were hurt.

So, essentially, the Bills were using primarily special teams and third string players for critical moments of the game. But there was no panic. There was really no drop-off. They were all prepared and did their jobs well. That's a credit to them, of course, but also to a coaching staff that's preached preparation and accountability throughout the entire roster since they arrived.

That preparation and play has now got this team to 4-1 with a bye week ahead then three home games in a row, including games against the winless Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins. The Philadelphia Eagles are sandwiched between them. To start the season, it would have been considered a nice first half to be 5-3. Now, it will probably be considered a disappointment if they don't hit the halfway point at least 6-2.

The bye week comes at the right time considering all the injuries from Sunday, and others like running back Devin Singletary and cornerback Taron Johnson who both missed another game, but now get an extra two weeks to heal. It may also come at the right time for fans who want to soak it all in and enjoy seeing their team in the driver's seat of the AFC Wildcard picture after five weeks. And the best part is - no matter what happens around the league next week, the Bills will still own that first wild card spot by themselves. There's a lot of season to play. But for the nest two weeks Bills fans can think back on and enjoy what they've seen, take a deep breath, and relax. You deserve it.



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