Wrap-up: Titans 35, Bills 34
October, 21, 2012
By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com
Thoughts on the Titans’ 35-34 win over the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium:
What it means: The Titans won their second game in a row and improved their record to 3-4, keeping their hopes of getting into the playoff mix alive. It was their first road win of the season.
What I liked: Against a terrible run defense, Chris Johnson did what a good back should do -- he ran wild. He turned 18 carries into 195 yards and two touchdowns, including an 83-yard home run that was once the sort of play opponents feared on any touch of Johnson's. Jamie Harper added two short touchdown runs. In their first five games, they’d combined for just one score on the ground.
What I also liked: Cornerback Jason McCourty pulled in a crucial interception of Ryan Fitzpatrick late in the game that gave the Titans a chance to win it. And Matt Hasselbeck converted a fourth-and-9 from the Bills’ 15 with a touchdown pass to Nate Washington that provided the winning margin.
Signs of life: Two defensive ends who’ve been too quiet combined to create a big takeaway when Kamerion Wimbley forced a Fitzpatrick fumble that Derrick Morgan recovered. That turnover led to a touchdown.
The lingering concern: Missed tackles remain a problem, and it’s clear the Titans are unable to coach the players that they have to tackle better. They need better players who tackle better. The Titans' 7.3 yards per carry average was offset a bit by the 6.9 yards per carry the Bills managed.
The question that must be asked: I have no doubt the Titans will turn back to Jake Locker if his left shoulder is sufficiently healed, but the fan base is going to be eager to dissect the move. With Hasselbeck at the helm of a two-game winning streak, and with a beatable team coming to Nashville, why mess with the formula?
What’s next: The Titans host AFC South rival Indianapolis. The Colts’ win over Cleveland put them at 3-3. It’s a big game for establishing who ranks as the second-best team in the division.