ORCHARD PARK, NY – The Buffalo Bills took care of business in Game 1 of a Monday Night Football doubleheader, knocking off the Tennessee Titans, 41-7. The Bills scored (again) on the first drive and the Titans responded – only to be held scoreless the rest of the way as Buffalo notched 34 straight points to close the game.
If the Buffalo Bills’ season-opening win was any statement, the Bills’ home opener against the Titans put an exclamation point on an already stellar start to the year. And a lot of that comes from connecting quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who have already had 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-up games on Monday Night Football, per Elias Sports. Two of the pair’s three touchdowns came in the third quarter when the Bills amassed 24 points to establish a late-game lead over the Titans.
Being without No. 2 wide receiver Gabe Davis ultimately wasn’t 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 all four scores. He also had a 10-yard run.
As the offense exploded off the page, particularly in the middle of the two quarters, the Bills’ defense more than helped in its end, limiting quarterback Ryan Tannehill to 11 completions and forcing four turnovers.
Buffalo is 2-0 for the third time in the past 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 has come from acting. His four inbounds passing touchdowns are the most of his career and the most the Titans have allowed in a game since ESPN began video tracking in 2006. His 14 inbounds shots are tied for the second most of his career, and his 219 rushing yards were the third of his career.
Pivot play: Allen’s 46-yard touchdown pass to Diggs will rightly be remembered, but earlier in the third quarter it appeared the Bills were set to kick for the first time this season. Supported on its own 16-yard line on third-and-16, the offense was assisted by an offside penalty by the Titans. Then, on the third and 9, Allen connected with wide receiver Jamison Crowder on a 16-yard pass to midfield. The play kept the player alive, which eventually led to Buffalo establishing a three-point lead.
Disturbing trend: It’s 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 the field by ambulance after sustaining a neck injury when he was 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. With a short week ahead, it will all be worth watching, plus Davis’ injury.
Under the radar stat namely: The Bills scored a touchdown on the first drive for the seventh consecutive game –– including the playoffs – which is the longest streak since the Falcons in 2016 (eight in a row). –Alaina Getzenberg
Next game: at the Miami Dolphins (1 p.m. ET, CBS)
The Titans were outscored on several 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 outshot the Titans by 227 yards and forced four turnovers. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was taken out of the game after his second interception when the game was 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 in the turnover party fumbling when one of his teammates was knocked into him causing the ball to come loose.
Describe the game in two words: Bad coverage. Even without up-and-coming star Gabriel Davis, the Bills still managed to move consistently in the secondary from the Titans, especially Stefon Diggs, who finished with 12 receptions for 148 yards and three touchdowns.
Staggering NextGen Stat: Derrick Henry recorded minus-2.6 rushing yards above expectations per carry tonight. It’s his worst yards to expectation per carry in a game dating back to 2018 when the metric began. Henry had been the NFL’s leading running back for the past 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 averaged just 2.0 yards per carry against the Bills, his fourth-lowest average in a game in which he made at least 10 races. Buffalo hit Henry at or behind the line of scrimmage on five of his 13 rushing attempts.
Disturbing trend: The injuries continue to pile up. Running back Trenton Cannon injured his knee on the opening kickoff and was lost for the game. Left tackle Taylor Lewan did not return after injuring his knee in the first quarter. The defense was also not immune to injury. Outside linebacker Ola Adeniyi suffered a wrist injury replacing Bud Dupree, who suffered a hip injury in the second quarter. Adeniyi went out for a few sets but returned before halftime. The Titans also lost defensive back Ugo Amadi at halftime of the game.
Underestimated statistics namely: Despite Derrick Henry’s tough day, he scored his second rushing touchdown of the season. He now has 56 rushing touchdowns over the past five seasons, 17 more than the closest players (Alvin Kamara and Nick Chubb each have 39). –Turron Davenport
Next game: vs. Las Vegas Raiders (1 p.m. ET, FOX).