In a battle of AFC heavyweights, the Bills delivered a knockout Monday night while sending an emphatic message to the rest of the NFL. In posting an 41-7 victory over the visiting Titans, the Bills moved to 2-0 while strengthening their case as the conference’s top team.
It was a dominant performance for the Bills in all three phases. The headliner was quarterback Josh Allen, who threw for 317 yards and four touchdowns in three quarters of work. He had a field day throwing the ball to wideout Stefon Diggs, who caught 12 passes for 148 yards and three scores. Buffalo’s offense was complemented by a defense that shut down Titans star running back Derrick Henry, who finished the night with 25 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries.
The game started competitively enough, as both teams scored touchdowns on their opening drives. But the Bills took over the game after that, scoring 10 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 17-7 halftime lead. The Bills ended the competitive phase of the game by scoring 24 unanswered points in the third quarter. Of those points, 17 were the result of three forced turnovers that included Matt Milano’s 43-yard pick-six of Ryan Tannehill, who was relieved by rookie Malik Willis after throwing his second pick of the quarter.
The win allowed the Bills to keep pace with the Dolphins atop the AFC East. At 0-2, Tennessee is in good company, as it is one of three winless teams currently residing in the AFC South.
Why the Bills won
Everything went right for the Bills on Monday night, which truly is the headline. Buffalo showed in Week 1 vs. the Los Angeles Rams that it deserves to be the odds-on favorite to hoist the Lombardi Trophy come February, and the Bills just built on their case in Week 2. Allen completed 26 of 38 passes for 317 yards and four touchdowns, while Diggs caught 12 passes for 148 yards and three touchdowns.
The defense allowed just 182 total Titans yards compared to the Bills’ 414, and Buffalo won the turnover battle 4-0. The Bills won in every facet of the game in Week 2. It’s just that simple.
Why the Titans lost
I think a better question is what went right for the Titans as opposed to what went wrong on Monday night. Tannehill completed 11 of 20 passes for 117 yards and two interceptions, Derrick Henry rushed for just 25 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries and the defense got blown past consistently. I think that third item is what really stood out in this loss, however.
One weakness that was clearly exploited by Buffalo was Tennessee’s secondary. The Titans’ No. 1 cornerback in Kristian Fulton was ruled out on Saturday due to a hamstring injury, and without him, this unit is young and very inexperienced. Former first-round pick Caleb Farley was playing in his fifth career game, and then Roger McCreary and Tre Avery are rookies. All three struggled to stop this explosive offense, especially Farley. It’s tough anytime Jake Kumerow cooks you for a 39-yard gain. There were several big plays given up just like that one, as Diggs caught a 46-yard bomb and Isaiah McKenzie caught a 28-yard pass. Allen had a great statline of course, but I’m honestly surprised he didn’t take more shots downfield.
The Titans secondary wasn’t elite last year either, but the front seven made them look good on occasion. With Harold Landry out this season due to a torn ACL, Bud Dupree leaving early Monday night with a hip injury and Ola Adeniyi banged-up as well, the Titans’ defensive line struggled to get pressure on Allen — leaving the young cornerbacks to their own devices.
In the third quarter, the Titans finally forced the Bills’ first punt of the season. Sam Martin booted it away, and Titans rookie wideout Kyle Phillips muffed it — his second muffed punt of the season.
The UCLA product has huge potential as a slot receiver, but you have to wonder if Mike Vrabel is going to leave him back there fielding punts moving forward.
Play of the game
The Bills offense and all the points they put up were the headline from this matchup, but the defense played well too! They forced a whopping four turnovers — which included this impressive interception from the veteran Jordan Poyer.
The Titans return to Nashville next Sunday to host the 0-2 Las Vegas Raiders. As for the Bills, they hit the road to take on the undefeated Miami Dolphins and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who is coming off of an impressive, 469-yard, six-touchdown performance.