Buffalo Blues Week 2: 2022 – Bills Vs Titans

The Buffalo Bills used their home opener to take a couple of years’ worth of frustration out on the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football, demolishing last year’s #1 seed in the AFC, 41-7. 

You can check out the audio version here

First and foremost, I am glad to hear that Dane Jackson was released from the hospital and that there was no major structural damage discovered on the CT scan or the X-rays after he was taken off the field in an ambulance following an awkward collision with Tremaine Edmunds near the end of the first half. 

Dane has done an excellent job since filling in for Tre White last season and has played some great football through the first two games this season as well. He was in my notes for this game for that reason and it really sucked to see him get hurt out there. My thoughts are with him, his family, and his teammates, and I hope that he is able to recover.

This was an interesting game through the first half. The Titans elected to differ, and the Bills responded to that challenge by scoring on the first drive of the game with a nifty screen design to fullback Reggie Gilliam. The Titans actually had it sniffed out fairly well, but Gilliam showed a lot of wiggle after the catch, made someone miss, and found the edge to the endzone. If the Bills start finding that kind of success regularly, watch out!

The joy on Josh Allen’s face as Reggie Gilliam scores is great (Photo Credit: Ben Green Buffalo Bills)

Tennessee responded with a 9-play, 75-yard drive of their own that got a major assist from a roughing the passer flag on the Bills’ Greg Rousseau that moved the Titans from their own 46-yard line, facing a 3rd down, to the Buffalo 39-yard line with a fresh set of downs. Derrick Henry had his best carry of the day for 9 yards and Ryan Tannehill converted a nice play-action pass to Austin Hooper before connecting with Nick Westbrook-Ikhine at the 2-yard line. 

It was a close play but he got his feet in and I’m not 100% sure why Sean McDermott felt like challenging that play, other than the notion that TEN was going to go quickly on their 4th & 1 try. The challenge was overruled but it did give BUF some time to get their defense ready, but it didn’t matter. Tennessee lined up and did exactly what you’d expect, giving the ball to Henry who punched it in for a TD. It would have been nice to see the stop there but, of all the game situations that were presented, Henry converting a short-yardage run is one that was bound to happen at some point. That said, it was the only time the Titans would score and the closest they would get for the rest of the game.

The Bills were very aggressive throwing the ball in this game, even with Gabe Davis out due to a late scratch and the absence of Tommy Sweeney took some heavy sets off the table. It was probably a combination of that and the fact the Titans’ defense got absolutely gashed in Week 1 by Saquon Barkley, but they had the Bills’ run game in check after Devin Singletary cracked a 16-yarder on their first carry of the game. 

That’s a big hole that’s well-blocked with Bates coming free on the defender, so I don’t know why Motor went left on this one.

Through the first half, Buffalo had sent in a run play 8 times and only managed 26 yards. Ten of those rushing yards came on a Josh Allen scramble leaving 16 net rushing yards on 8 true carries, including several runs for no gain and Motor getting caught in a 5-yard loss on a play where he misread the blocking to start their final drive of the half (above). The Titans were playing with a heavy box to take the run away, but I liked seeing the Bills use that heavy box to draw out coverages and stay committed to the play-action and read option looks as the game progressed. It’s a situation where the results on the ground were not ideal, but Ken Dorsey and the rest of the offensive coaching staff were able to still use it to their advantage later in the game (as soon as the end of the drive, in fact).

At the end of their final drive of the half, the Bills were faced with their 3rd 4th & 1 of the game in plus territory. Their first attempt was ugly. It was a passive play design and nearly resulted in a catastrophic interception, but fortunately fell incomplete as Allen tried to muscle it. The second attempt came before their field goal and saw Allen try to use cadence to draw the Titans offsides, but he wound up drawing a false start out of Greg Van Roten. So again, oddly passive with arguably the best 4th &1 threat in the league on your team. Anyway, the third time is the charm and Dorsey drew up a nice motion look off the play-action and, even though Tennessee diagnosed the initial read, Diggs crept open where Allen eventually found him wide open in the endzone. Those 4th & short situations will be something to watch as the Bills look to stay aggressive throughout the season. 

Milano wouldn’t be stopped by Ryan Tannehill on this one

Buffalo’s defense would dominate the rest of the way, forcing consecutive punts and several turnovers, including Matt Milano’s first career TD on a pick-six that ended Tannehill’s night. Allen would connect with Diggs on two more scores, one on a zone-beater for 46-yards and another on an RPO laser in single coverage. It was 34-7 when Milano scored and ended Tannehill’s night late in the third quarter. At that point, it was almost a preseason game for the Bills who pulled most of their key starters by the 4th quarter. 

Even though the sack numbers don’t jump out as they did in the first game for the defense, the Titans played a lot of max protection and the two sacks picked up by the Bills’ defense were important ones. More importantly, in this matchup, was shutting down Henry and the Bills did that splendidly. He finished with just 25 yards on 13 carries and Buffalo had 8 tackles for loss along the way. So, even with two huge pieces of the interior defensive line out, they dominated the point of attack. 

Exactly what you want to see around Henry. (Photo Credit: Buffalo Bills/Ben Green?)

Good news on the special teams front. On the Bills’ first punt of the game, they were up 24-7 new face Sam Martin booted a knuckler that was fumbled by TEN and recovered by BUF leading to another Tyler Bass field goal. His next punt didn’t come until it was already 41-7 but that one was also muffed by the Titans and just barely recovered. He bombed a long of 57 and averaged 48.3 yards per punt with two muffs, so I’d say that the punting situation is secure.

I thought Allen and Diggs went nuclear in Week 1 but they were unstoppable in this matchup. Allen finished 26/38 for 317 yards and 4 TDs…just another day at the office. Diggs accounted for 12 of those completions, 148 yards, and 3 TDs. It was easy to see that he had staked his claim to elite wide receiver territory vs the Rams last week, but he’s making a case for the #1 spot again through two weeks. 

Diggs is ready for Week 3 (Photo Credit: Buffalo Bills/Craig Melvin?)

Buffalo heads to Miami in Week 3 for what has become a much more intriguing matchup than it was to start the season. The Dolphins made a lot of changes to be able to compete in a division where they have lost seven straight to the Bills. So far it looks like it has paid off as they rallied from 21 down in the 4th quarter to beat the Ravens in Baltimore. It should be a good game and several of the key injuries to the Bills could play a big factor. 

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