The Tennessee Titans welcomed the Bills to Nashville on Sunday and were the latest NFL team to be introduced to the new Buffalo Bills. Like four teams before them, the Titans discovered that the new Bills give you nothing. Nothing. You may make a play against them, you may make a lot of plays. You may even beat them. But they give you nothing. If you want it, you have to earn it.
The Titans didn’t have enough to earn it. They missed four field goals, and if you don’t take advantage of the opportunities you get against the Bills, you lose. Simple as that. Frankly, if they’d made those four field goals, the Bills probably would have gotten another touchdown, simply because the new Bills always seem to get what they need.
The formula for the new Bills is obvious: stifling defense, ball control offense, no mistakes. They aren’t perfect in any of those categories. Perfection is the goal, and the Bills get close enough to perfection to force the opponent to be nearly perfect if the opponent wants to win. Four missed field goals is not nearly perfect.
Personal note: I’ve been infected. I’ve been infected by Sean McDermott. I have process-itis. I’m now a one-game-at-a-time, one-play-at-a-time, don’t-get-too-high and don’t-get-too-low guy. Someone asked me the other day who’s next after the Titans. I didn’t know. I don’t get upset when Allen makes a bad decision. I don’t cheer as much when the Bills score.
I’ve bought the process. It’s always about the next play, and the Bills always are prepared for the next play. I was calm when the Bills were down 16-0 to the Jets. I was calm when they lost the lead to the Bengals. I was calm when Allen was launching those stinkers against the Pats. I was calm when the Titans tied the game. I was calm because I knew the Bills were calm. If they’re calm, why should I worry?
I’ve never felt this way about the Bills before. Frankly, I miss the highs and lows a little. I miss the exhilaration and the pain, but that’s okay. I like the winning. I like the winning a lot.
1. Well, I did get excited once in the Titans game: when Duke Williams scored. I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for a good story, and Duke’s is a good story. Here’s a guy with a lot of talent whose life was, at least by all reports, headed in the wrong direction. His football career was in the tank.
Then he decided to get himself back on track and to work his way onto an NFL roster. Saturday, he was added to the Bills’ roster, and Sunday he caught his first NFL pass, then his first NFL TD pass.
Duke’s excitement with the TD was clear. His teammates shared his excitement after the catch, because they knew what it meant to him. Josh Allen shared it, too, when he took a knee to end the game, then flipped the game ball to Duke.
2. Injuries have to be a concern. Bills need Morse. Ford needs to play to learn his jobs. Seeing Poyer on the ground was disconcerting. Singletary was missed for another game. Milano and Murphy. The bye is too early for my taste, but it will help the Bills get healthy, and it comes at a good time for Allen to savor a win and to get himself locked into the playing style that will win games.
3. The Bills’ defensive line works and works, and Sunday the Titans’ offensive line play clearly was to the Bills’ liking. The Bills were relentless. Mariota was in trouble often, and thanks particularly to Jordan Phillips, went down often. Alexander, Hughes and Oliver filled up the stat sheet. Oh, by the way, in the first five weeks of the season, the Bills defense, the one that had so much trouble stopping the run consistently in 2018, has kept the likes of Le’Veon Bell, Saquon Barkley and Derrick Henry under control. Pretty good stuff.
4. Tremaine Edmunds continues to impress. He isn’t the most physical middle linebacker, but he’s closing nicely on the run now, and he’s exceptional in pass defense. Not many middle linebackers get that pass breakup late in the game. He’s a special talent.
5. Josh Allen said it was his best game as a pro, and it was. He didn’t make spectacular plays, but he consistently made the right plays. He found the right receiver most of the time and delivered catchable balls. He threw the ball away when he needed to, except once. He ran effectively. He slid. He has to keep learning, keep growing.
6. John Brown ran sharp routes and made tough catches all day long. Dawson Knox, not so much.
7. The final drive to run the clock and close out the game was excellent. Some might say that it was garbage time yards for Gore, but it was anything but that. The Titans were down only one score and desperately needed the ball for one more shot to tie the game. The offensive line took over when the Bills needed first downs, and Gore did the rest.
8. Road wins. Take care of business at home, and pile up some road wins. That’s always been the formula. Bills now have three road wins. Yes, two were the Jets and Giants, but there’s no arguing the Titans were pushovers.
The Titans have been solid on offense and very tough on defense. It didn’t matter to the Bills – they controlled the ball, controlled the clock and scored when they needed it. Good teams win on the road, and every week that goes by it becomes easier to see that the Bills, finally, are a good team.
9. Did I miss something, or did Ryan Bates hold up just fine at right tackle? I guess we can see now now why Brandon Beane was so interested in acquiring him.
Welcome to the NFL, Duke! Let’s see more of that in the weeks and years to come.
The Rockpile Review is written to share the passion we have for the Buffalo Bills. That passion was born in the Rockpile; its parents were everyday people of western New York who translated their dedication to a full day’s hard work and simple pleasures into love for a pro football team.
Editor’s babble: Thanks to Mark Korber for his wonderful contributions to our blog. You can’t find Mark on Twitter, but you can find him posting on twobillsdrive.com’s Stadium Wall.