NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Cairo Santos may get a thank-you card from One Bills Drive within the next few days.
The Tennessee Titans kicker missed three field goals and had another blocked in the Buffalo Bills' 14-7 win Sunday, including a potential go-ahead 33-yard kick with 6:31 remaining in the game. The Bills' sputtering second-half offense quickly came to life after the miss, retaking the lead for good on its ensuing drive.
The Bills' third road win this season surpasses their road win total from 2018. Despite injuries to five starters, 11 penalties and a 4-for-13 performance on third down, Buffalo will take a 4-1 record into the bye week before returning home for three straight games against the Dolphins, Eagles and Washington.
Describe the game in two words: Elite defense. One week after forcing Tom Brady into one of the worst games of his career, the Bills sacked Marcus Mariota five times and controlled the line of scrimmage. Buffalo didn't force any turnovers for the first time this season but did hold the Titans to four third-down conversions on 14 tries and 252 total yards of offense. Sunday's game also marked the second time in five weeks Buffalo held an opponent to under 160 passing yards.
Troubling trend: Bills quarterback Josh Allen played smart, safe football for two and a half quarters, throwing the ball away when nothing was there and refusing to force any throws. That is, until he scrambled a bit too long, locked onto too tight of a window and forced an ill-advised pass to Cole Beasley that was intercepted by Titans All-Pro safety Kevin Byard. Tennessee scored the tying touchdown on the ensuing drive and nearly captured momentum for good. Allen has now thrown seven interceptions in five games this season after throwing 12 in as many games last season. The process of learning to manage the game continues for the second-year quarterback, although he did notch his first game of the season with two touchdown passes.
Pivotal play: Not one play, but a series of 12 plays altered the course of this game. First up was a Derrick Henry go-ahead touchdown that was nullified by a holding call. Three plays later, the Titans were called for a false start, and Mariota was flagged for an illegal forward pass immediately after -- wiping out yet another red zone touchdown. Rookie defensive end Darryl Johnson blocked Santos' 33-yard field goal attempt, before the Bills regained the lead with a six-play, 62-yard drive highlighted by a 47-yard catch-and-run by Isaiah McKenzie and Duke Williams' first career touchdown. The Titans' self-destruction and Bills' immediate capitalization shifted Buffalo from the brink of defeat to full control of the game.