The Tennessee Titans pulled off a home upset on "Monday Night Football," coming from behind several times to defeat the Buffalo Bills 34-31.
Derrick Henry once again had himself a monster evening, rushing 20 times for 143 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner late in the fourth quarter. The Titans were helped by several big plays, as well as several miscues by the Bills -- with a holding penalty on a potential game-winning kick return taking a score off the board.
Josh Allen had a huge game in defeat, throwing for 353 yards and three touchdowns, but he had a tipped pass get intercepted late in the first half, and he was stopped on a crucial fourth-and-inches QB sneak on Buffalo's final drive of the game. The Bills could have kicked a field goal and tried to send the game into overtime, but elected to go for it and try to win in regulation -- only to come up short.
Here are some takeaways from Monday night's Titans victory:
Why the Titans won
Can you say Henry? On a night when Ryan Tannehill was off the mark until late in the contest, the bulldozing back ripped off one big gain after another against Buffalo's typically stingy rush defense, averaging more than 7 yards per carry and scoring three times to carry Tennessee's offense. Tannehill, to be fair, made up for some of his early misfires by building a crunch-time connection with A.J. Brown and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, while Julio Jones chipped in with the game's most acrobatic catch before leaving with yet another hamstring issue. Defensively, Mike Vrabel's squad epitomized the "bend-but-don't-break" strategy, with guys like Breon Borders falling victim to several deep plays but also stepping up in the red zone. Jeffery Simmons and Denico Autry also made noise up front, stuffing the Bills' ground game, forcing a key turnover and ultimately sealing the Titans' shootout win with a goal-line stand.
Why the Bills lost
Technically? Because Sean McDermott's decision to go for the win rather than a tying field goal backfired, with Allen slipping on a fourth-down QB sneak. But most anyone who watched Buffalo's offense all night would've signed off on the bold call. The real reason Buffalo lost? McDermott's stout defense was nowhere to be found. Jordan Poyer had a nice pick of Tannehill, who was a nonfactor early, but the Bills could do little to slow Henry. It didn't help, later, that Allen threw his own interception after a hit sent his pass into the arms of Kevin Byard. And, of course, we can't completely ignore that final play of theirs; Buffalo was literally yards away from securing the eighth and final lead change of the night but just could not execute. This team is still an obvious contender with the weapons to go blow for blow with anyone, but it's now clear the Bills are not invulnerable on "D," especially up the middle.
The Bills had scored on three straight drives when they got the ball back with 9:45 to go in the fourth quarter. But a Jeffery Simmons sack pushed them back after moving the chains, and Allen couldn't connect on a pair of deep shots, resulting in a punt, with the Titans down 31-27. Tennessee then proceeded to go 70 yards on eight plays, milking almost five minutes of clock in the process. Westbrook-Ikhine emerged with a couple of clutch first-down catches, and then Henry sealed the deal with a 13-yard sprint up the gut, putting the Titans ahead for good.
Play of the game
Henry had a handful of rough-and-tumble gallops worthy of a second look, but nothing topped the unbelievable catch by his teammate, Jones. Tannehill rolled right, fired the ball downfield, only to have it bounce up into the air off the helmet of the Bills' defender. Jones, however, stayed with the ball while maneuvering toward the sideline, somehow coming down with the pass while dragging his feet in bounds:
The Bills (4-2) will rest up on their Week 7 bye before returning on Halloween for an AFC East rematch with the Dolphins (1-5), who lost 35-0 to Buffalo earlier this year. The Titans (4-2), meanwhile, will stay at home for their Week 7 matchup on Oct. 24 to face another elite contender in the Chiefs (3-3), who are fresh off a rout of Washington.