ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Safety Jordan Poyer and the Buffalo Bills couldn’t care less about style points.
After being on the losing end of some lopsided decisions, an offensively challenged, field-goal-dominated 13-12 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday is all that mattered.
“Two-and-three is a lot better than 1-4,” Poyer said, referring to the Bills record. “It’s never ugly when you win.”
Stephen Hauschka overcame a botched field-goal attempt in the final minutes of the first half by hitting a 46-yard attempt as time expired. Running back LeSean McCoy broke from a September slump with 85 yards rushing — matching the combined total from his first three games.
And Poyer helped anchor an injury-depleted secondary on a defense that forced three turnovers, held the Titans to 221 yards and limited them to scoring four field goals.
Buffalo bounced back from a 22-0 loss at Green Bay last weekend. Its defense showed improvement after surrendering 75 points over six quarters, starting with a 47-3 season-opening loss at Baltimore, followed by the first half of a 31-20 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
“I think there was a glimpse of it,” defensive tackle Kyle Williams said in suggesting the young, patchwork Bills are finding a hint of their identity.
The Titans (3-2) took a step backward in having a three-game win streak snapped, and squandered a chance for their best start since winning their first 10 games in 2008.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota failed to show the flair he displayed last week in rallying the Titans to a 26-23 overtime win over the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. Mariota finished 14 of 26 for 129 yards passing and an interception against Buffalo.
The Titans crossed midfield four times, with each drive ending with Ryan Succop hitting field goals.
“Not very good. Yeah, I mean we left one out there today,” Mariota said. “If you’re not ready to play, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing.”
The Titans’ best chance of finding the end zone slipped through their fingers early in the fourth quarter.
Facing third-and-4 at Buffalo’s 23, Mariota avoided the pass rush and scrambled to his left, where he lobbed to receiver Nick Williams, who was wide open in the end zone. Williams had the pass drop through his hands while attempting to make an over-the-shoulder catch.
Tennessee settled for Succop hitting a 39-yard field goal to cut Buffalo’s lead to 10-9.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen was hardly better. The rookie first-round pick finished 10 of 19 for 82 yards and an interception, but did open the scoring on a 14-yard touchdown scamper.
Allen’s interception nearly cost the Bills midway through the fourth quarter. Late in finding Andre Holmes to his right, Allen’s pass was tipped and intercepted by Adoree’ Jackson at the Tennessee 46.
The Titans settled for Succop hitting a go-ahead 50-yard field goal after Mariota fumbled and was fortunate to have the ball bounce off his foot and roll out of bounds.
The Bills responded with an 11-play, run-dominated drive that covered the final 4:43. McCoy and Ivory combined for 43 yards.
“That’s how it’s supposed to be,” McCoy said, referring to a run-oriented game plan in which he had a season-best 24 carries. “We stuck to it.”
BOTCHED CHANCE I
The Bills botched a 30-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter when rookie holder/punter Corey Bojorquez caught the snap and inexplicably stood up before suddenly kneeling in a bid to place the ball. Bojorquez then threw an incompletion.
Bojorquez hurt his right shoulder but returned for the second half.
Bojorquez said he misunderstood what he heard from the coaches.
Hauschka, meantime, had an inkling he might get a chance to win the game.
“The pace of the game, I was going to be ready for it, and I wanted that opportunity,” he said. “I’m glad I got a shot at it.”
BOTCHED CHANCE II
The Titans followed Buffalo’s missed opportunity by settling for Succop matching a career high by hitting a 54-yard field goal as time expired. They had three timeouts left when penalized for delay of game while facing a third-and-4 at Buffalo’s 26. They were backed up again on the next snap when Trent Murphy sacked Mariota for a 5-yard loss.
Bills rookie linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and defensive end Shaq Lawson had forced fumbles, while rookie cornerback Taron Johnson had an interception. Buffalo has eight takeaways (five forced fumbles and three interceptions) in its past three games.
Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott acknowledged he and GM Brandon Beane have considered signing 12-year veteran quarterback Derek Anderson, but stressed “nothing is final at this point.” McDermott and Beane were formerly with Carolina, where they both became familiar with Anderson, who spent the previous seven seasons with the Panthers. Buffalo is down to Allen and second-year player Nathan Peterman at quarterback after trading A.J. McCarron to Oakland on Sept. 1.
Titans: Two-time Pro Bowl LT Taylor Lewan did not return after hurting his foot in the second quarter. Titans were missing two starters with S Kenny Vaccaro (right elbow) and LB Wesley Woodyard (shoulder) inactive.
Bills: Had just three healthy safeties in their lineup with starter Micah Hyde (groin) and backup Rafael Bush (shoulder) inactive.
Titans: Host Baltimore on Oct. 14.
Bills: At Houston on Oct. 14 for fourth road game in six weeks.