Even with the heartbreaking loss, there is no reason to panic for the Buffalo Bills. Fans don’t need to look any further than last season.
While Josh Allen has excellent individual numbers in the red zone, the Buffalo Bills offense has been pretty pedestrian in the red area the last two seasons.
The Bills touchdown percentage in the red zone last year was 61.8%, 13th in the league. However, after adding more pieces to the offense, the group has taken a step back in 2021, converting only 16 of their first 29 (55%) red zone attempts this year for touchdowns which ranks 26th in the league.
The Bills settled for field goals twice in the first quarter after driving the ball inside the Tennessee 10-yard line. The defense opened the game playing well, and forced multiple punts and if the offense could’ve converted touchdowns, the Buffalo Bills could’ve taken a double-digit lead early. This effectively would have taken Derrick Henry out of the game.
Instead, the defense had to continue to prepare for the run and pass, and unsurprisingly Derrick Henry had a great game. The 247 pound running back ran all over the Bills finishing his day with 143 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, the #1 ranked Bills defense would fail to get off the field in the second half.
With one last chance remaining and just a 3 point deficit to makeup, the Buffalo Bills offense once again drove to the red zone while the clock dwindled down. However, a sloppy series of downs in the red area led to the 4th and 1 QB sneak. The Titans promptly stopped the play after Allen appeared to slip. The stop all but guaranteed a Titans’ victory.
It was the first time the Bills have ever lost a game in which Josh Allen has thrown for over 300 yards, and the red zone inefficiency and poor defensive performance are the reasons why.
You’re not going to get through an NFL season by blowing out every team you play, and once you get into a close game, a couple of freak plays can decide the game. The Titans had the plays go their way, and they pulled out the victory.
Despite the loss, there’s no reason to panic. Allen had another phenomenal game. There are too many good players on this offense for them to continue to struggle in the red zone. As for the defense, we’ve seen this group bounce back from games like this plenty of times in the Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier era.
Parallels to last season for the Buffalo Bills
For the first time since November of last year, the Bills found themselves in a high-scoring back and forth regular-season game.
That November game last year was lost in a similarly horrific fashion when DeAndre Hopkins caught a miraculous hail mary from Kyler Murray in the waning seconds. The Cardinals loss occurred right before the bye week, and the Bills were left chomping at the bit for two weeks.
When they finally returned to play, they ascended to heights never-before-seen. Following the bye last year, the Bills went 6-0 and outscored opponents 229-110.
The Bills will get the chance to do that exact same thing this year with their bye coming up the week after a gut-wrenching loss.
With a stretch of weak opponents ahead on the schedule, it might end up being a good thing that the Bills got some close game experience under their belt while it was available. Following the loss, the Bills will embark on a three-game stretch that consists of the one-win Dolphins, Jaguars, and Jets.