Sully's Five Observations on the Bills' victory over Titans
Five observations from the Bills’ 13-12 win over the Titans.
* At times, it struck me that Sunday’s game was quite reminiscent of the teams’ last meeting — a 14-13 Bills win in Tennessee in 2015.
It was more than the score that resembled the game in ’15, which the Bills won on a late TD pass from Tyrod Taylor to Chris Hogan. That was the last time the Bills won a game in which they had fewer than 225 total yards and 90 team passing yards in a win.
On Sunday, the Bills finished with 223 offensive yards and 79 net passing yards. Three years earlier (and also in the fifth game of the season), they had 209 yards and 82 passing in the win.
* Jerry Hughes had another dynamic day for the Bills’ defense, getting consistent penetration against a Titans O line that lost left tackle Taylor Lewan. But early in the fourth quarter, Hughes lost a sack when he had Marcus Mariota wrapped up and inexplicably let him go. Mariota escaped and threw incomplete.
"If I pick him up and finish him, it's a 15-yard penalty and they might score on that drive,” Hughes explained later. “It's a tough situation to be in, and I'm very thankful that our secondary played lights out all day and got us off the field.”
Hughes was referring, of course, to stringent and controversial new rules that prohibit defensive players from driving quarterbacks to the ground or landing on them with their full weight. There have been a number of dubious calls early in this season, but this was the first time a player simply let a QB go.
* Brian Daboll, who had a rough day as offensive coordinator in Green Bay, acquitted himself fairly well this time, committing to the running game and mixing in a few inventive twists.
Daboll called a flea-flicker on the Bills’ first offensive play after an early Titans turnover. Josh Allen handed to LeSean McCoy, who flipped it back to Allen, whose deep pass toward the end zone didn’t come close to being completed to Kelvin Benjamin.
The passing game was poor, but Daboll at least had Allen rolling out on some plays. The quick throw to Ray-Ray McCloud on the winning drive was a nice call.
There were a couple of dubious quarterback draw calls, one on first down. It appeared the Bills were trying to get a play off before the Titans could review a play. Still, it was a foolish waste of a play.
* Benjamin continued his disappointing play, finishing with just one catch for 11 yards. The Bills’ reputed No. 1 wideout has has eight grabs for 103 yards on the season, and 25 for 339 yards in 12 games as a Bill, including the playoff game.
Benjamin spent a lot of time on the sidelines as the Bills mixed in McCloud and Andre Holmes. Among his other shortcomings, he’s not a particularly ambitious run blocker.
* Cornerback Tre’Davious White had another solid day against the opposition’s top wide receiver, helping limit Corey Davis to four catches for 49 yards on six targets.
A week earlier, Davis had a career game against Philadelphia, catching nine passes for 161 yards, including the game-winner in OT. He had 15 targets that day and was targeted on 32 percent of Mariota’s throws, the second-busiest in the league.