Stephen Hauschka’s 46-yard field goal as time expired capped an afternoon where the Buffalo Bills defense forced three turnovers, leading a 13-12 win over the Tennessee Titans.
The Bills offense was largely stagnant, except for the handful of plays where running back LeSean McCoy broke free. The veteran broke out of the early-season doldrums with 85 yards rushing. McCoy also snagged a screen pass on a 3rd and 3 situation that he turned into a 13-yard gain and a first down before Hauschka’s game-winner.
“They told me that they would give me the ball this game and that was the main focus,” said McCoy after the game. “We had some things we could have did better, like in the red zone, but other than that, I thought the gameplan was nice.”
Rookie quarterback Josh Allen struggled under center, finishing 10-of-19 passing for 82 yards and interception. His brightest moment came in the opening minutes. After the Bills forced their first turnover of the game, Allen took off on a 14-yard touchdown run for the first points of the game.
“I care about letters. I care about the Ws,” said Allen. “I don’t care how ugly the stats look, if we’re out on top, that’s all I care about.”
On the other side, former Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota wasn’t much better, throwing for 129 yards and an interception on 14-of-26 passing attempts.
For the Bills, the game marks a bounce back in the win column, after suffering a 22-0 loss last Sunday in Green Bay, their first shutout loss since 2008. The Titans were coming off an overtime win against the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.
“We had to get a win. Any time you find a way to win at home, especially at home, definitely boosts your confidence,” said linebacker Lorenzo Alexander. “Now we have to deal with success, last time we didn’t. Gotta figure out a way to stack some wins, putting together, and start creating a streak here.”
Both teams squandered chances to drastically change the game’s outcome.
Bills cornerback Taron Johnson intercepted a Mariota pass in the second quarter that set up the Bills inside Tennessee’s 40-yard line. The Bills red zone offense petered out before a 30-yard field goal attempt. Bills punter and holder Corey Bojorquez inexplicably stood up with the ball after the snap and then attempted a pass that meekly fell incomplete. Bills special teams coordinator Danny Crossman was seen shouting at Bojorquez moments later on the sideline.
In the fourth quarter, Mariota found wide receiver Nick Williams wide open toward the Bills’ endzone, only to have the resulting pass attempt fall through his fingers. A touchdown would have put Tennessee in front, but instead settled on a field goal that kept the Bills in front 10-9.
The ensuing Bills drive reached midfield, before Allen threw his lone interception of the day. The rookie was attempting to connect with Andre Holmes, but defensive back Adoree’ Jackson was able to pop the ball into the air before coming down with it. The Titans were able to turn that turnover into another Ryan Succop field goal which gave them their first lead of the game.
The Bills return to the road next Sunday for their fourth road game in six weeks at the Houston Texans, while the Titans host the Baltimore Ravens.