The Buffalo Bills knew they had to stop Tennessee running back Travis Henry on Sunday. They blitzed and crowded the line of scrimmage with eight-man fronts often in an attempt to slow down their former teammate.
The result: Henry finished with 135 yards to lead a Titans rushing attack that rolled up 215 yards overall in a 30-29 victory.
It was the fifth game this season Tennessee topped 200 yards rushing and the second time the Bills yielded that many. Henry might have gotten 200 yards by himself if a 60-yard run hadn't been called back.
The Bills had some success defending the run in recent games after making halftime adjustments. But nothing worked against Henry, who got stronger as the game wore on.
He got outstanding blocking from his offensive linemen and fullback Ahmard Hall. They physically pushed Bills defenders off the ball. The Bills also missed tackles trying to deal with Henry's punishing running style.
These are five of Henry's best runs:
Henry gains 6 yards on first play from scrimmage: Tennessee opens the game in a base I-formation with two-receivers and a tight end. The Bills have four down linemen and ROLB Keith Ellison is lined up next to DE Aaron Schobel. Behind the line are LBs London Fletcher, Takeo Spikes and FS Ko Simpson. Ellison and Simpson attack from the outside, but Henry finds a crease up the middle when C Kevin Mawae pushes NT Kyle Williams out of the hole, LG Jacob Bell walls off Schobel, FB Hall takes out Fletcher and RG Benji Olson engulfs Spikes.
Henry gains 30 yards on first and 10 from the Titans' 45: From the I-formation, WR Brandon Jones motions from right to left. The play is to the right where Olson pulls outside and buries CB Terrence McGee. RT David Stewart drives DT Larry Tripplett off the line of scrimmage and then helps Mawae double team Spikes. TE Ben Hartsock pushes DE Chris Kelsay inside. Bell stops Williams' backside penetration, while LT Michael Roos drives Fletcher about 20 yards downfield. SS Donte Whitner tries to fill the hole where Henry is headed, but gets blasted by Hall. Henry jumps over the pile, runs through Tripplett's arm tackle and is finally dragged down by Simpson at the Bills' 25.
Henry gains 19 yards on second and 9 from the Bills' 49: Olson pulls to the left and pushes Schobel outside. Stewart drives Williams to the turf and a crunching lead block by Hall on Ellison opens a huge hole off the left side. Henry delivers a jolting stiff arm to break Spikes' tackle and runs into the open field. Simpson dives at Henry's legs at the 42, but Henry runs out of the arm tackle. Clements is next in line to make the stop inside the 40, but can't wrap up Henry, who keeps his legs churning and breaks away again. Fletcher and Schobel finally drag Henry down from behind at the Bills' 30.
Henry gains 11 yards on first and 10 from the Titans' 12: Tennessee lines two tight ends and a wide receiver to the left, which draws Whitner near the line of scrimmage. But the play is to the right. Olson blocks down on DT Tim Anderson. Stewart takes Kelsay to the outside. Mawae pulls right and takes down Ellison. Bell reaches the second level and engages Fletcher. Henry blasts through the gap, bounces off two defenders before Spikes drags him down at the 23.
Henry gains six yards on first and 10 from the Bills' 48: Hall blows up Ellison on the left side as Henry cuts right where Stewart has driven Tripplett inside and Hartsock has pushed Kelsay back 3 yards off the line of scrimmage. Whitner meets Henry in the backfield, but Henry lowers his shoulder and runs through Whitner. But Whitner manages to grab an ankle while falling to slow Henry down enough for Kelsay to assist with the tackle.
* Lee Evans went into the game having caught 42.5 percent of the Bills' pass completions, an NFL high. But QB J.P. Losman has done a better job of spreading the wealth in recent weeks. Peerless Price had his best game of the season Sunday, catching seven passes for 73 yards. The offense continues to get the tight ends involved as well.
* We saw more creative play calls from offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild. WR Reed lined up in the backfield and gained 15 yards on a running play. There also were more screens to the running backs and tight ends.
The Bills want to avoid another losing season, but it won't be easy. Their final game is in Baltimore against the Ravens (12-3), who are playing for a shot at home-field advantage throughout the playoffs on Sunday.
The NFL announced early today that the Buffalo Bills' season finale at Baltimore will be among three games moved from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. due to the Sunday Night Flex Schedule.
The game was switched when NBC opted to televise Green Bay's game against the rival Chicago Bears at 8:15 p.m. at Soldier Field.
The other games shifted from 1 to 4:15 because of the switch are Miami at Indianapolis and Atlanta at Philadelphia.
This is the second time the Bills have had a start time switched due to the flex scheduling.