OPINION: Arrow Up/Arrow Down: Bills at Titans

The Bills lose for the first time this season
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For the first time this season, the Buffalo Bills found themselves on the losing end of the scoreboard and in a big way, falling 42-16 to the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.

Also for the first time this season, I’ll start with my Arrows down:

ARROW DOWN:

- Not ready to play

The Bills just didn’t seem like they were ready for this game, for whatever reason. They started slow, dropped passes, had pre-snap penalties, and generally looked lackadaisical throughout a lot of the game.  They were undisciplined and not focused.  This was not the Bills team we’ve been accustomed to seeing under Sean McDermott overall, and especially through the first four games of this season.

- Josh Norman

From the very first series of the game, Norman struggled, especially against Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown, who caught seven passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. It wasn’t just allowing passes against by Norman. He also got tossed aside on a stiff-arm by Titans running back Derrick Henry, and was called for two different pass interference penalties on third down plays.

- Taron Johnson

Johnson didn’t seem to know which way to go on a few different plays in the first half, and because of that got he beat for key receptions to help Titans drives stay alive.

- Andre Roberts

Roberts had a drop on the first pass of the game, which led to a Tennessee interception. Then in the fourth quarter, he fumbled a kickoff, which was recovered by the Titans. He also didn’t make any difference returning the ball on punts or kicks, which he usually does, and was tackled for a one-yard loss on his only punt return chance. The Bills had one drive the entire game start past their own 25-yard line.

- Drops!

It started with Roberts. Then it was Stefon Diggs. Then Dawson Knox. The Bills had several key dropped passes in the first half that killed drives and, in the case of Roberts’ on the first pass of the game, resulted in an interception, in which the Titans would up scoring a touchdown on shortly after.

- No Beasley in first half

Cole Beasley not only didn’t have a catch in the first half, but wasn’t even targeted. Without John Brown on the field, the Bills could have used Beasley being more involved early-on. They did that in the second half and the difference showed when he caught six passes for 53 yards.

- Running game

The Titans defense came into the game giving up the most yards per-run in the NFL, and by quite a bit, at over 5.7 yards per-carry. However, the Bills couldn’t take advantage. They ran for 95 yards and 4.3 yards per-carry, but 34 of those yards came on a late fourth quarter run by T.J. Yeldon. Devin Singletary ran the ball 11 times for only 25 yards and a miniscule 2.3 yards per-carry. Sure, the Bills identity is spreading the field and throwing, but the running game has to be able to help them and didn’t at all in a situation that was made for it.

- Pass rush

There was no pass rush to speak of from the Bills defense. Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill was rarely pressured, and the Bills didn’t register a single sack. McDermott and Leslie Frazier better figure out a way to generate some pressure, but the front-four also has to start winning more one-on-one battles to get there.

- Outside containment defense

The Bills defense gave the edge to the Titans far too many times. There were even plays they looked like they had everything covered, but Tannehill was able to get out on the edge and have plenty of room to either run or throw, whichever he preferred. They did a nice job on Henry overall, but Tannehill, Jeremy McNichols and Darrynton Evans hurt them, and especially on the perimeter. There were a lot of times it looked like the defensive ends were jumping inside and not maintaining contain, but I obviously don’t know if that was by design or just them deciding to do that on their own.

- Penalties

The Bills were called for 10 penalties, totaling 56 yards. It was also when they happened, and underscored the fact that they simply seemed to not be paying attention to the small details they usually do that cost them. They had three false start penalties on one drive in the fourth quarter!

- Turnovers

The Bills turned the ball over three times - two via interception and one fumble - and the Titans scored a touchdown after each of them. 21 points off turnovers.

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ARROW UP:

- Stefon Diggs

Diggs didn’t have a terrific night, but he did wind up with 10 catches for 106 yards and made several key third down grabs.

- T.J. Yeldon

Yeldon was responsible for the Bills’ two longest plays of the night. He only caught one pass, but it was for 22 yards and a touchdown. He ran the ball seven times, but one was for 34 yards and three others were third down runs that resulted in first downs.

- Corey Bojorquez’s punt

Bojorquez had a monster 71-yard punt, which turned into an 80-yard difference in field position. The line of scrimmage was the Bills’ 10-yard line. Bojorquez punted it to the Titans' 19-yard line, but a penalty on Tennessee put them at their own 10-yard line to start the next drive.

- Third down conversions

The Bills were very good on third downs all night, converting 13-of-17 of them (76%).

- Stopping Derrick Henry

The Titans running back had a few key runs, but overall, the Bills did a god job on him, holding him to 57 yards on 19 carries, only 3.0 yards per-carry.

Follow me on Twitter: @SalSports

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