Bills/Titans: Game Balls and Goats

Who did well? Who struggled? We have a full slate of game balls and goats inside. In many ways, Buffalo's 41-17 loss to Tennessee was like past defeats. Yet in other ways, it was wasn't. One defensive back continued his hot streak and one wide receiver was back to his old tactics. The lowdown inside...

Game Balls

Chris Johnson

Not that it was a surprise or anything. Johnson's fantasy football owners were twitching in excitement for this on. Against the league's worst run defense, Tennessee's unworldly back treated the field like his personal backyard. He reversed direction with playground-ease and finished runs with bite. The Bills had no answer. Johnson rushed for 132 yards, caught nine passes for 100 more and had two touchdowns to lead the Titans. This wasn't a 41-17 game. Buffalo was in this game until the end. But the constant threat Johnson posed kept the Titans a step ahead all day.

Vince Young

Well. So much for Young being a bust. Apparently, his career isn't a wash. Since reclaiming his job from Kerry Collins, Young is 3-0 as the starter. He's been the antithesis of his former self—safe and reliable. On Sunday, Young consistently kept Tennessee in manageable situations. He ran when needed and located the open man with poise. In his three starts, Young is completing 71 percent of his passes. Or in other words, he is taking advantage of defenses stacking the box to stop Johnson. Jeff Fisher must be kicking himself for not benching Collins sooner.

Fred Jackson

Is there anything Jackson can't do? Buffalo's running back has become the team's best returner, remains a go-to threat on the ground and on Sunday he threw a touchdown to Lee Evans. The Bills are reverting to anything to spark its stagnant offense. In the first quarter, Jackson took the direct snap, ducked his head forward to sell the run and flung the ball to a wide-open Evans. Nine games in, it's become a broken record. Get. Jackson. The. Ball. Sprinkling Wildcat sets in is a start. But eight carries is a third of the carries Jackson should be getting. On only eight rushes, Jackson had 48 yards. Since torching Tampa Bay for 163 yards on 28 carries in week two, Jackson has not received 20 carries in one game.

Jairus Byrd

Another game, another pick for the Byrdman. Buffalo's second-round sensation feels a sense of entitlement to every tipped ball. After robbing another tipped pass Sunday, Byrd's pick count inched to eight. Without question, he has been the team's best player this season. Just hand him a lei now.

Goats

Terrell Owens

Here we go again. Whether he was yelling at coaches on the sideline or pouting on his trot back to the huddle, T.O. began to boil over Sunday. Yes, he caught a 46-yarder and appeared to be a bigger part of the offense (see: seven targets). But Owens started to shed his political correctness in the loss. There's been a suspicion that Owens doesn't want to be here, especially after his arrogant agent spewed on the radio about Buffalo's offense. In the Bills loss, we started to see tangible proof from the source himself. The juvenile antics of years past are back. When Edwards overthrew Owens twice toward the end of the game, Owens quit on his route and waltzed back in full pout. Hold on, folks. We may see an ugly divorce unravel before our eyes.

Dick Jauron

His decision to decline Tennessee's holding penalty was inexplicable. Jauron welcomed a two-score game. Rather than push the Titans into a third-and-impossible, Jauron allowed Rob Bironas to kick a 51-yarder with 3:23 left. Bironas split the uprights — he's the league's best kicker from downtown — and Buffalo fell behind by 10. After being burnt by countless 50+ yard field goals as the Bills head coach, you'd think Jauron would sense the bad break coming.

Buffalo's pass rush

The Bills failed to generate pressure all game, tallying one QB hit and zero sacks. Give the Titans' line credit. The front five has only allowed seven sacks all season. But it's time for the Bills to shake things up. Rookie Aaron Maybin may be raw and a year or two away from contributing but coaches need to play him more. Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay had miserable games. Playing through injuries, Schobel has been a soldier this season. But why not release Maybin into more passing situations? See what he has. I'm not ready to call him a bust yet. He needs reps, needs opportunities.

thdunne@gmail.com

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