Josh Allen throws 2 TD passes as Bills smother Titans 14-7
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Josh Allen is starting to prove that he understands just how crucial taking care of the ball is in the NFL, especially with how well the Buffalo Bills’ defense is playing right now.
Allen threw for 219 yards and two touchdowns with only one interception as the Bills beat the Tennessee Titans 14-7 Sunday in a defensive showdown for their third straight win in this series.
“I know there’s a stat as a quarterback I’m 8-1 with one or less turnovers,” the second-year Buffalo quarterback said. “So understanding that, playing complementary football is what we need to do and continue to improve on that.”
The Bills (4-1) have won three consecutive games away from Buffalo for the first time since 2004, though so many Buffalo fans traveled here it felt much more like a home game. It’s also the first time they’ve started a season perfect through three road games since 1993.
This game featured two of the NFL’s stingiest defenses, with the Titans fourth in giving up 15.5 points, and the Bills fifth, allowing 15.8 points a game. Jordan Phillips had a career-high three sacks — by halftime — as Buffalo sacked Marcus Mariota five times even with three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan back from his four-game suspension for performance-enhancers.
The Titans (2-3) sacked Allen four times only to lose their third in four games on a day their replacement kicker missed three field goals and had a fourth blocked.
“One of my great mentors, the late, great Jim Johnson, always said you need some luck, and he’s right,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said.
The Bills outgained the Titans 313-252 despite 11 penalties for 78 yards.
Darryl Johnson blocked Cairo Santos’ 33-yard field-goal attempt in the fourth quarter, a kick that would’ve given the Titans the lead 10-7. Signed to fill in while Ryan Succop heals on injured reserve, Santos also pulled a 50-yard field goal wide left to start the second quarter, and a 36-yarder inside the final minute wide right. He also was wide left on a 53-yarder.
“Never had a day like this,” Santos said. “Have been bouncing around with teams for a couple of years and just haven’t had a performance like this.”
Fans weren’t happy that Titans coach Mike Vrabel sent Santos out for the 53-yard attempt with 6:31 left after the day he’d already had.
“Well, this is our kicker,” Vrabel said. “This is a guy who’s made some kicks for us.”
Johnson’s block came after Tennessee thought it had scored the go-ahead TD early in the fourth quarter when Mariota threw a pass to A.J. Brown. But officials ruled Mariota was over the line of scrimmage when he released the pass, costing the Titans the TD, a down and points after the blocked field goal.
Allen responded with Buffalo’s best drive, helped by a short pass Isaiah McKenzie took 46 yards. Allen found Duke Williams for a 7-yard TD pass three plays later and a 14-7 lead with 9:46 left
The Bills quarterback looked sharp and was on target early after being cleared only Saturday from the concussion protocol ; he took a helmet-to-helmet hit in a 16-10 loss to New England last week. Allen said he felt confident as he left the field from that loss that he would be able to play against Tennessee.
Allen completed all five passes for 58 yards on the Bills’ lone scoring drive of the first half. He capped the 60-yard drive with an 8-yard pass to a wide-open Lee Smith. He was 23 of 32 passing and also ran 10 times for 27 yards.
Kevin Byard picked off Allen’s pass under pressure early in the third quarter for the seventh interception this season for the Bills quarterback. Derrick Henry scored on a 1-yard TD dive to turn the interception into a tie game.
Phillips got to Mariota early and often as the Bills kept the Titans from crossing midfield much of the first half. Phillips had the most sacks by a Bills defender since Lorenzo Alexander had three on Oct. 19, 2016, at the Rams, and he was the first with three sacks by halftime since Mario Williams in 2013 against Carolina. Alexander also had a sack in this game.
Bills center Mitch Morse was taken to the locker room from the sideline by cart late in the first half. Jon Feliciano replaced him for the third quarter. LB Matt Milano hurt a hamstring, and rookie right tackle Cody Ford and DE Trent Murphy both were evaluated for head injuries in the second half.
Titans cornerback Chris Milton hurt his calf and did not return.
Bills: Bye week before hosting Miami on Oct. 20.
Titans: fourth road game of the season with a visit to Denver.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker