Bills make Titans pay heavily for turnovers in disheartening loss

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Turnover differential is the ultimate neutralizer in the NFL.

The Tennessee Titans came to New Era Field on Sunday riding a three-game win streak. Two of their three wins came against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles, teams considered to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

The Buffalo Bills had just been shut out by the Green Bay Packers and seemed like a team spiraling toward a top pick in next spring's draft.

But the Bills beat the Titans at their own game, 13-12, on a last-second field goal. The Bills controlled the ball for seven more minutes and forced three turnovers. It's a formula that worked for Tennessee in its Week 2 win over the Houston Texans and Week 3 victory in Jacksonville.

The Bills used a ball-control offense and turned the ball over just once, when Tennessee cornerback Adoree' Jackson tipped a Josh Allen pass to himself for an interception.

"They were a huge role. It was huge, the No. 1 key to the game," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of the turnovers. "Coming in, we knew that these guys feasted off of it. They were hunting them up, and we didn't do a good enough job of taking care of the football. It's no secret why you lose."

Tennessee (3-2) turned the ball over twice early. The Titans got the ball first, picked up a first down and went to a no-huddle offense to increase the tempo. Marcus Mariota threw a strike to wide receiver Taywan Taylor for a 5-yard gain, but Taylor fumbled, and Bills linebacker Matt Milano recovered.

The sold-out crowd went crazy. Allen scrambled 14 yards for the game's only touchdown on the next drive, and the Titans played from behind for all but the last four minutes of the game.

The next turnover came early in the second quarter. Mariota was looking to get the ball to wideout Nick Williams on a slant with cornerback Taron Johnson in zone coverage. Mariota telegraphed where he was going to throw the ball, but it was delivered to the correct spot. Williams allowed Johnson to step in front of him and pick the pass off.

"We have to do better. We have to coach the route better. We have to execute the route better. That's what happens. They made a play, and we didn't," Vrabel said.

Added Williams: "We were slightly on a different page. I have to do as much as I can to cross that guy's face. They were playing zone defense, and he triggered."

The Titans' third turnover came in the third quarter, when running back Dion Lewis fumbled as he tried to fight for extra yards, with the ball punched out of his arms.

"The guy made a play. We knew all week coming into the game that they were going to try to strip at it. They just got me, made a great play," Lewis said.

Mariota and the Titans must find a way to recover at home next Sunday against Baltimore.

"We can't turn the ball over as an offense," he said. "We've got to do a better job at playing complementary football. We have to be better, a whole lot better."