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Where to start?

That’s the question the Tennessee Titans have to be asking themselves on the way home from Buffalo after they were completely dismantled 41-7 in front of a national television audience on Monday Night Football.

It was difficult to figure whether the offense, defense or special teams looked most hapless in a performance that was every bit as ugly as the score indicated. Maybe worse.

It was the most lopsided loss of the Mike Vrabel era, which began in 2018, and it left the Titans looking like a turtle that had rolled on its back, flailing away and completely helpless.

“We got our asses kicked, plain and simple,” Vrabel told media in Buffalo. “They out-coached us. They outplayed us. And that’s the definition of it. So, we’re going to get back to work and we’re going to figure out a way to win a football game.”

That may be quite a challenge based on Monday night’s brutal evidence.

The Bills led by the final margin before the end of the third quarter, which prompted Vrabel to replace Ryan Tannehill with Malik Willis and allowed the Bills to sit quarterback Josh Allen, who completed 26-of-38 passes for 317 yards and four touchdowns.

The Titans actually scored on their first touchdown drive, tying the game 7-7 when Derrick Henry crashed into the end zone from two yards out in the first quarter.

It was a complete disaster after that.

““It’s brutal,” Tannehill said. “I haven’t been part of a whole lot of games like that. Brutal night. We have a lot of football out in front of us. Have to turn the page quickly tonight on this one and get ready to go next week.”

Making matters worse was the number of injuries suffered by the Titans, most notably starting left tackle Taylor Lewan, who left the field with what appeared to be a right knee injury on Tennessee’s first play of the game. Linebacker Bud Dupree (hip), kick returner Trenton Cannon (knee) and edge rusher Ola Adeniyi (wrist) were among others lost for at least part of the game. So were defensive backs Ugo Amadi and Lonnie Johnson.

The Titans dropped to 0-2, a mark that – though it might not sound so devastating – has been too steep for any team to make the playoffs in the last three seasons. The last time a team started a season 0-2 and made the playoffs was in 2018 when Houston and Seattle both did it.

“I don’t know if it had anything to do with the offseason, I don’t know if it had anything to do with the preseason,” Vrabel said, searching for answers. “We weren’t very good tonight, top to bottom. Nobody did enough for us to win, including and starting with me.”

Here are some of the lowlights:


The Titans’ running game went from average last week to impotent in the loss to the Bills.

Henry finished with 13 carries for 25 yards. He had a long carry of nine yards, meaning Henry’s other 12 carries gained 16 yards – an average of 1.3 yards per attempt.

“It’s something we’re going to have to look at and see where we can hang our hat,” Vrabel said of the running game. “I think there were times when we got them covered up and we were close. Just not breaking any like we’re used to, so we’ll have to see if it’s at the second level or if it’s just one guy. That has to be something we have to do better than we’ve done it the past two weeks.”

Tannehill completed 11 of 20 passes for 117 yards, zero touchdowns and a 32.7 quarterback rating. His two interceptions came on back-to-back series in the third quarter, with Matt Milano returning the second one 43 yards for a touchdown.

Including last season's playoff loss to Cincinnati, Tannehill now has thrown five interceptions in his last three contests. Vrabel and Todd Downing had a long talk with Tannehill on the sideline following the second interception, prior to Willis entering the contest.

“Nobody wants to go out there and lose that way,” Vrabel said. “But I’m also a realist, and I understand where we were at and the situation we were in. Try to take some guys (out) that I feel like are going to help us win next week … and felt like that was the time to get Malik in there and (running back Hassan Haskins) in there and some other guys.”

In Tannehill’s defense, he was harassed all night because of a porous offensive line. Aaron Brewer was bowled over by Greg Rousseau, accounting for one of the two sacks against Tannehill. Rookie right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere and tight end Geoff Swaim appeared to miscommunicate on the other when they went in opposite directions and allowed Tremaine Edmunds to take Tannehill down. In the first two quarters alone, the Bills’ defense posted two sacks, five tackles for loss and three passes defended.

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“It’s not the start we want, not the start we expected,” Tannehill said. “But a lot of football in front of us and (we have) a lot of confidence that we’re going to get this going in the right direction.”


The Titans had no answer for wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who abused a variety of overmatched corners that included Tre Avery, Chris Jackson and Caleb Farley among others. He wound up with 12 catches on 14 targets for 148 yards and three touchdowns before sitting out the last quarter of the game like Allen.

Buffalo shredded the Titans with one big play after another, a total that included a 46-yard touchdown reception by Diggs, a 39-yard pass to Jake Kumerow and a 28-yard completion to Isaiah McKenzie.

“We were certainly trying and mixing coverages -- mixing split safety, post safety,” Vrabel said. “We pressured (on the long touchdown pass to Diggs) there, and (Josh Allen) pulls it, (Diggs) gets inside the corner”.

On one 77-yard touchdown drive alone, the Bills used a 15-yard completion to Dawson Knox, the 39-yarder to Kumerow, a 15-yarder to Diggs and another nine-yard completion to Diggs.

It was hard to pick out individuals during such a bad team effort, but Farley stood out – primarily because he was the Titans’ first-round draft pick in 2021, and because he needed to step up with Kristian Fulton sidelined.

Farley was the defender who was torched by Kumerow – who came in with 23 career receptions – for the 39-yard pass down the left sideline. It was also Farley who looked completely lost on Diggs’ 4-yard reception that gave the Bills a 17-7 lead just before halftime. Farley lined up in front of Diggs as the play began, but didn’t track Diggs as the receiver went from left to right across the end zone.

Should we even mention that the Bills were playing without their second-best wide receiver, Gabriel Davis, who missed the game with an ankle injury?


How bad did things get for the Titans?

They couldn’t even catch punts.

Titans rookie Kyle Philips, whose first NFL punt return went for 46 yards against the Giants, muffed a fair catch Monday for the second consecutive week. The Titans had finally forced Buffalo into punting – for the first time this season – in the third quarter, only to see the ball bounce off Philips’ shoulder pads. Buffalo recovered the fumble and added a field goal for a 27-7 lead.

Having seen enough of Philips, Vrabel sent safety Amani Hooker back to return the next punt, early in the fourth quarter. Hooker muffed the catch as well, though Avery recovered that loose ball for the Titans.


Unlike a week ago, when the Titans were edged 21-20 by the Giants in the season opener, Tennessee couldn’t point to a play here or there as the difference in this game.

This was an onslaught, a game that saw the Bills score 34 straight points after the lone Titans touchdown.

The Titans’ offense looked nothing like the physical, ground-and-pound outfits that hammered opposing defenses for the past three seasons, leading to play-action success. This group managed 12 first downs and 187 total yards – just 112 yards after scoring on the opening drive.

The defense, expected to be one of the league’s better units – even without Harold Landry – proved incapable of pressuring Allen on a consistent basis, unable to cover one of the league’s elite receivers and powerless to stop a relentless Buffalo attack.

To their credit, they owned the embarrassing evening, realizing what an ugly product they put on display. It’s one thing to recognize one’s futility, of course, quite another to turn it around.

“In this league, nobody is going to feel sorry for you,” Vrabel said. “We understand that. We don’t expect that. We don’t want anybody to.

“We have to get things fixed. We have to figure out how to win a game.”

Good luck with that.