Bills stumble against the Titans, but easier opponents lie ahead

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Running back Derrick Henry was too much for the Buffalo Bills Monday night, finishing the game with 143 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

The Tennessee Titans held off a Bills rally to win 34-31 and scored the most points against Buffalo this season in the process.

Looking forward, however, there is positive news for the Bills.

Buffalo (4-2) heads into the bye and then things only get easier. According to ESPN's Football Power Index, the Bills have the third-easiest remaining schedule. After a tough stretch of AFC division leaders, three teams with losing records (Dolphins, Jaguars, Jets) await.

Last year the Bills suffered a tough loss in Arizona on the “Hail Murray” pass from Kyler Murray to Deandre Hopkins and then went into the bye week. The team proceeded to win out the rest of the regular season.

“A lot of shoulda, coulda, woulda,” quarterback Josh Allen said. “But at the end of the day, 4-2 going into the bye week. Going back to last year, taking a loss the way we did against Arizona … this is resilient team, and I got no doubt that we're gonna use this to fuel us and be ready to go in two weeks.”

The Bills outplayed the Titans for much of the first half, but big plays, penalties and turnovers kept Tennessee in the game. Buffalo, which came into the game allowing less than 75 yards on the ground per game, gave up a 76-yard rushing touchdown to Henry in the second quarter, the longest rushing score in the NFL this year.

“We let [Henry] out a few times, and when that happens, you can watch all the games on film and know once he gets through that front line, it's hard to bring him down,” safety Micah Hyde said.

In the second half, the defense allowed the Titans to put together three drives of eight-plus plays and control the clock. All of Tennessee’s second-half drives resulted in scores, and the Titans finished 3-3 in the red zone. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was not sacked once and the Bills defense only registered two quarterback hits.

Red zone scoring was one of the Bills’ early issues, something that has been a theme throughout the season. Twice in the first half, Buffalo kicked field goals from the Titans’ 10-yard line or closer, which prevented the Bills from establishing an early lead. Buffalo finished the game 2-for-5 in the red zone on offense and have scored touchdowns on 55.2% of red zone drives.

Allen also dealt with pressure he hadn’t faced outside of the Week 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was sacked three times (tied for a season high) and took seven quarterback hits. Allen finished the game completing 35 of 47 passes for 353 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.

Pivotal play: In the game's final seconds, the Bills chose to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Titans’ 3-yard line. But Allen slipped and came up just short. Down three points, Bills coach Sean McDermott elected not to attempt a field goal for the tie.

Allen had rushed for a first down on 13 of 14 attempts on fourth-and-1 in his career entering Monday, and the only one that was unsuccessful was a botched snap against the Jets in 20189. The quarterback also had 24 first downs on quarterback sneaks since entering the league in 2018 (most in the NFL).

“Josh is usually spot on with those, you've seen him have a lot of success in those situations,” McDermott said. “… (I) felt, hey, if we're that far from potentially winning the game right there it was the best thing we could do. We hadn't stopped them on defense for a number of drives there in the second half, really. Felt like we could go and win the game right there.”

Eye-popping NextGen stat: Allen has seven passing touchdowns on the run this season (two vs. Titans). Nobody else in the NFL has more than four this year.