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Quarterly Report: Opening script gets Bills off to fast start

BILLS-TITANS QUARTERLY REPORT

FIRST QUARTER

Theme: Good opening script by Brian Daboll. The Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator was in a zone to start the game, as the Bills drove 47 yards in 11 plays to a touchdown.

Matchup watch: Cornerback Tre White did not follow Titans No. 1 receiver Corey Davis every play. But the Bills got a third-and-2 stop on the Titans’ second drive when White blanketed Davis on an in-breaking route.

Good hands: Tight end Jason Croom helped Josh Allen out by catching a low pass on a bootleg for a 7-yard gain.

Zebra report: Some thought Titans punt returner Nick Williams tried to call fair catch before ripping off a 38-yard return to the Bills’ 25. Williams waved his arms at waist level as he moved to field the punt but he was not calling fair catch. Deon Lacey missed the tackle.

Key hurry: Trent Murphy hit Marcus Mariota on a third-and-3 play from the Bills’ 7 to force the Titans to settle for a field goal.

Streak snapped: The Bills' opening score was the first in the first quarter vs. the Titans this season.

Jay Skurski's 10 observations: Defense leads way in Bills' narrow win

SECOND QUARTER

Theme: A tale of two field goals. The Bills botched one, the Titans made one.

Clutch kick: Titans place-kicker Ryan Succop booted a 54-yarder to close the half. He’s super-reliable but has not been great from long range. Succop had a streak of 56 straight successful field goals that ended last season but he had made only 7 of his previous 14 kicks from 50-plus yards. Then he hit from 50 in the fourth quarter.

Backup beaten: Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan went out with a foot injury and did not return. His replacement, Tyler Marz, was beaten for a sack by Kyle Williams, who worked a twist with Trent Murphy. Williams was too fast to the outside for Marz.

Zebra report: Josh Allen was flagged for false start when they were going for it on fourth and 3 from the Titans’ 40. The referee determined Allen threw his hands out in calling for the snap. A dubious call. The quarterback often is allowed that leeway.

Crowd assist: Loud crowd noise helped as the Titans were flagged for delay of game on a third-and-3 play with 45 seconds left.

Bills-Titans Report Card: Running game, defense earn high marks

THIRD QUARTER

Theme: Good defense is exciting.

Matchup watch: Vlad Ducasse vs. Jurrell Casey. The Titans’ Pro Bowl defensive tackle had a tackle for loss of Chris Ivory in the third quarter and a 4-yard stuff of LeSean McCoy in the fourth. But the roly-poly, 315-pound Titan did not get a sack and didn’t dominate as much as he does some weeks. Ducasse walled him off on several Bills runs.

“He’s an exceptional player,” Ducasse said. “Any time you go against a player like that you have to bring your A game. He did a good job. He got me a couple times. I was able to slow him down a couple times. It was back and forth.”

Zebra report: The officials were alert in making a sharp holding call against Titans defensive tackle DaQuan Jones that helped the Bills keep the field position edge in the quarter. Jones was grabbing a Bills’ pulling guard to prevent him from getting downfield.

Second guess: Josh Allen’s poorest pass of the day came on a third-and-10 play when he missed an open Kelvin Benjamin with a throw into the turf.

FOURTH QUARTER

Theme: A rare comeback walk-off win. It was the Bills’ third ever win on a come-from-behind score as regulation time expired. The other two? Jim Kelly’s famous 2-yard scramble in Miami in the 1989 opener and a 24-23 win over Oakland on a Rian Lindell field goal on Sept. 21, 2008.

Matchup watch: The Titans entered the game No. 1 in the NFL in third-down defense, holding foes to 34 percent conversions. The Bills converted 4 of 13 (31 percent).

Key drop: Titans receiver Nick Williams dropped a would-be touchdown pass at the Buffalo 2 with 10:34 left. Pressure forced Mariota to scramble out of the pocket and extend the play, which allowed Williams to get behind Taron Johnson. Call it a virtual wash. The Bills gave away three points with the botched field goal early. The Titans had to settle for a 39-yard field goal to pull within 10-9.

Key blitz: Johnson blitzed from his slot corner position on a third-and-8 play from the Buffalo 29 with 5:11 left. It helped Jerry Hughes sack the QB, and the Titans had to settle for a field goal.

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