ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Buffalo Bills took care of business in the first game of a Monday Night Football doubleheader, knocking off the Tennessee Titans, 41-7. Tennessee evened the score after the Bills scored on their opening drive before Buffalo reeled off 34 straight points to close things out.
If the Buffalo Bills’ season-opening win was a statement, the Bills’ commanding home-opening performance against the Titans put an exclamation point on an already outstanding start to the year. And a large part of that comes from the connection of quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who are already off to a historic start to the season.
Diggs caught 12 passes for 148 yards and three touchdowns, joining Jerry Rice (1987, 1995) as the only players with multiple three-touchdown catch games on Monday Night Football, per Elias Sports. Two of the pair’s three touchdowns came in the third quarter when the Bills put up 24 points to establish a game-ending lead over the Titans.
Being without No. 2 wide receiver Gabe Davis ended up not being a problem for Buffalo with eight different receivers catching passes. Allen now has seven passing touchdowns to start the year, the second-most in the first two games in Bills’ history (Jim Kelly, eight in 1991). The quarterback finished the game 26-of-38 (68.4%) for 317 yards and the four scores. He also had one rush for 10 yards.
While the offense exploded off the page, especially in the middle two quarters, the Bills defense more than help up on its end, limiting quarterback Ryan Tannehill to 11 completions and forcing four turnovers.
Buffalo is 2-0 for the third time in the last four seasons after having three 2-0 starts in the previous 15 seasons — and it was the team’s first home win on Monday Night Football since 1994. .
QB breakdown: Much of Allen’s success came on play-action. His four play-action passing touchdowns are the most in his career and the most the Titans have allowed in a game since ESPN began video tracking in 2006. His 14 completions on play-action throws tied for the second-most of his career, and his 219 yards on play-action were the third-most of his career.
Pivotal play: The 46-yard touchdown pass from Allen to Diggs will rightfully be remembered, but earlier in the third-quarter drive, it appeared that the Bills would have to punt for the first time this season. Backed up at their own 16-yard line on third-and-16, the offense was assisted by an offsides penalty by the Titans. Then, on third-and-9, Allen connected with wide receiver Jamison Crowder on a 16-yard pass to the middle of the field. The play kept the drive alive, which ultimately led to Buffalo establishing a three-score lead.
Troubling trend: This is out of the Bills’ control, but they suffered a wrath of injuries in the win over the Titans. Starting cornerback Dane Jackson was taken off of the field in ambulance after suffering a neck injury when hit by teammate Tremaine Edmunds. Safety Micah Hyde left the field on a cart with a neck injury, and linebacker Matt Milano (stinger) and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (hamstring) finished the game with injuries, but they wouldn’t have played more anyway as the Bills rested many of the starters at the end of the game. With a short week ahead, these will all be worth keeping an eye on in addition to Davis’ injury.
Under the radar stat to know: The Bills scored a touchdown on the opening drive for the seventh straight game –– including playoffs — which is the longest streak since the the Falcons in 2016 (eight straight). — Alaina Getzenberg
Next game: at Miami Dolphins (1 p.m. ET, CBS)
The Titans were outclassed on many levels in the lopsided loss. It was the Titans’ worst loss under coach Mike Vrabel, surpassing a 40-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 15 of 2020.
The Bills outgained the Titans by 227 yards and forced four turnovers. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was pulled from the game after his second interception with the game already out of reach.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel replaced Tannehill with Malik Willis, making him the first rookie to play quarterback this season. Willis joined the turnover party by fumbling when one of his teammates got knocked into him causing the ball to come loose.
Describe the game in two words: Bad coverage. Even without emerging star wideout Gabriel Davis, the Bills still managed to constantly roam free in the Titans’ secondary, especially Stefon Diggs, who finished with 12 receptions for 148 yards and three touchdowns.
Eye-popping NextGen stat: Derrick Henry recorded minus-2.6 rush yards over expectation per carry tonight. That is his worst rush yards over expectation per carry in a game dating back to 2018 when the metric began. Henry had been the NFL’s top rusher over the last two and a half seasons before suffering a Jones fracture in Week 8 last season. After averaging 3.9 yards per carry in Week 1, Henry only average 2.0 yards per carry against the Bills, his fourth-lowest average in a game in which he had at least 10 carries. Buffalo hit Henry at or behind the line of scrimmage on five of his 13 rushing attempts.
Troubling trend: The injuries continue to mount. Running back Trenton Cannon injured his knee on the opening kickoff and was lost for the game. Left tackle Taylor Lewan didn’t return after injuring his knee in the first quarter. The defense wasn’t immune to the injuries either. Outside linebacker Ola Adeniyi injured his wrist while filling in for Bud Dupree, who injured his hip in the second quarter. Adeniyi came out for a couple of series but returned before halftime. The Titans also lost defensive back Ugo Amadi at halftime for the game.
Underrated statistic to know: Despite Derrick Henry’s tough day, he scored his second rushing touchdown of the season. He now has 56 rushing touchdowns in the last five seasons, 17 more than the next-closest players (Alvin Kamara and Nick Chubb each have 39). — Turron Davenport
Next game: vs. Las Vegas Raiders (1 p.m. ET, FOX).
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