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The Morning After: Buffalo Bills Must Chew on Nasty Gristle For Two Weeks

Their defense, offensive line and special teams failed them in the first game they were truly challenged in since Week 1.

Of all the things that went wrong for the Bills in Monday night's alarming 34-31 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Monday night, the most disturbing reality is that they're 0-2 in tight games.

The only two teams to keep pushing back on them for 60 minutes through the first six games were the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 and the Titans. Those teams are a combined 7-5 and are coming off playoff seasons.

The Bills have blown out the Miami Dolphins, the Washington Football Team and the Houston Texans, who are a combined 4-14. They also won comfortably over the Kansas City Chiefs, who are just 3-3 with a malfunctioning defense.

What it means is that the Bills remain in search of their first win over a team with a winning record.

That doesn't necessarily mean they're suddenly mediocre or overrated or underperforming or in any kind of serious trouble. Still, they must head to their off week with a laundry list of faults that were exposed by the Titans.

"Today we didn't get the job done, I didn't get the job done," coach Sean McDermott understated.

Here's a list of what they have to chew on and try to digest in time for their next game: a home rematch with the Dolphins on Oct. 31.

The decision

McDermott's aggressive decision to go for it on fourth-and-inches from the Tennessee 3-yard line with under 30 seconds remaining might not have backfired if he had considered the mounting evidence against a quarterback sneak that had been presented througout the course of the previous 59 minutes.

Tennessee's defensive line bullied the men across from them with penetration all night, sacking Allen three times, hitting him five others and moving him off his spot too many times to count.

Allen's right foot slid out from under him on the game-deciding play, preventing him from getting enough traction to get the first down.

Then there's this: If the Bills are the better team, and there's not one person in the organization who doesn't still believe that, why not kick the field goal and trust your players in overtime instead?

Superior teams don't need to take chances like that, even on the road and especially in a season characterized by visiting teams winning a majority of the games through the first six weeks. The Bills themselves were 2-0 on the road coming in.

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Protecting the quarterback

Suffice to say that Allen took a beating and woke up this morning feeling mighty grateful that he won't have to take another hit for 12 more days.

The Bills' reshuffled offensive line took a step backward in its evolution in this game with the pressure it allowed on Allen and the mediocre job of creating holes for running backs Zack Moss (24 yards on eight carries) and Devin Singletary (27 yards on five carries).

But progress is rarely linear, so not all hope is lost.

Rushing the quarterback

Matching up against giant-sized running back Derrick Henry led McDermott and the staff to make the curious decision to deactivate defensive ends Boogie Basham and A.J. Epenesa. Defensive tackle Vernon Butler was scratched for a third straight week.

The eight-man rotation that did play the defensive tackle and defensive end positions on this night failed to sack Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill once and hit him just twice.

That's especially egregious considering how poor the Titans' offensive line had performed all season coming in. Tannehill had been sacked 20 times.

What's more, the Titans lost their best offensive lineman, three-time Pro Bowl tackle Taylor Lewan, to a game-ending injury in the second quarter.

"We just felt like we wanted to dress some other guys and look at some other guys with [DT Harrison Phillips] and [DE] Efe [Obada] and just trying to find matchups as well," McDermott explained.

The Titans were going to get their rushing yards with Henry.  Nobody really stops him. His 143 rushing yards, 76 of which came on one play, could have been overcome if the Bills' pass rushers had just done the job expected of them.

Schedule sets up

Although the Bills haven't beaten a winning team, they can only play who's on their schedule. And that schedule looks soft the rest of the way as it stands after Week 6.

Only two of their remaining opponents, New Orleans and Tampa Bay, have winning records now. And eight of their remaining 11 games will be against teams that have different starting quarterbacks than last year.

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro. Email to