ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Tennessee Titans were one team that understood how to win close games in the NFL after racking up three straight victories by a field goal. On Sunday, the Titans found out how it felt to be on the wrong end of one of those games.
Bills veteran kicker Stephen Hauschka drilled a 46-yard field goal as time expired to give Buffalo a 13-12 victory over Tennessee in a defensive battle at New Era Field. The Titans had taken the lead on their previous possession before the Bills marched back for the win.
Running back LeSean McCoy picked up 17 yards on the final drive to get the Bills moving, and backup running back Chris Ivory bulldozed his way for critical yards to help Hauschka get into field-goal range. He converted from the left hash mark for the win.
The Bills reached into the 1970s for its game plan Sunday. They established the run and stopped the Titans from doing the same.
They played sound defense and neutralized Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota after he threw for 344 yards in last week’s win over Philadelphia.
Josh Allen, who made two key throws on the final drive, completed 10-of-19 passes for only 82 yards. He also scored on a 14-yard touchdown run. It was enough for the Bills to pick up their second win in three games after two humiliating losses to open the season.
The game Sunday was a defensive struggle. The Bills played terrific defense and kept a struggling offense with an inexperienced quarterback in the game. Tennessee had problems finding any rhythm on offense.
Mariota was 14-of-26 with one interception.
Ryan Succop made four field goals, including a 50-yarder with 4:43 remaining to give the Titans the lead on a day in which the offense failed to reach the end zone. Nick Williams dropped a sure touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter that would have given Tennessee a six-point lead.
Tennessee had three turnovers, but it was Allen’s interception on a pass that bounced off receiver Andre Holmes midway through the fourth quarter that gave the Titans hope. If there’s one team that knows how to pull out close games, it’s Tennessee.
The Titans had won three straight games by a field goal, including a 26-23 overtime victory over the Super Bowl champion Eagles. Tennessee also pulled out a three-point win over Jacksonville, picked by many as the AFC favorite to reach the Super Bowl.
Buffalo was coming off a 22-0 loss to Green Bay, marking the Bills’ first shutout defeat in a decade. Buffalo beat Minnesota two weeks ago after forcing two early fumbles, helping the Bills to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter. The game Sunday started much the same.
The Bills took a 7-0 lead after rookie Tremaine Edmunds forced a fumble, giving the Bills possession and a short field. Allen made a cutback move before diving for a 14-yard score, his third rushing touchdown this season, and an early lead.
Bills head coach Sean McDermott was irritable last week after reviewing the loss to the Packers, and seemed particularly annoyed with the play-calling after McCoy had only five carries in the game. McCoy had 85 yards rushing, matching his season total, on 24 carries against the Titans.
McCoy was off to the worst start of his career. He and Ivory combined for 39 yards against Green Bay. They had 128 yards on the ground Sunday.
The Bills’ defense, the strength of a weak team, played well for the third straight week.
Tennessee was held to two field goals in the first three quarters, including a 54-yarder from Succop on the final play of the first half. He also converted from 25 and 39 yards.
The Titans (3-2) return home to play Baltimore next week while the Bills (2-3) travel to Houston.