Buffalo Bills squander late lead in 35-34 loss to Tennessee Titans

The Buffalo Bills made a costly mistake, then missed an opportunity to regain the momentum. The Tennessee Titans made the most of the small opening.

Two plays after Buffalo safety George Wilson dropped a potential interception, Matt Hasselbeck hit Nate Washington for a 15-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 1:03 left to lift Tennessee to a wild 35-34 win on Sunday.

The Titans defense set up the decisive drive when cornerback Jason McCourty intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick's pass at midfield with under 3 minutes left.

Before Hasselbeck threw for the winning score, his second-down pass from the Buffalo 17 sailed wide of Washington and toward the open arms of Wilson at the 2. Wilson was unable to corral the errant throw, and Hasselbeck secured the victory with a fourth-and-9 completion to Washington, who had a step on Justin Rogers in the end zone.

It was Hasselbeck's 22nd fourth-quarter comeback win and second in consecutive weeks after he rallied the Titans to a 26-23 win over Pittsburgh on Oct. 11.

"I had an opportunity to make a play on the ball, and I didn't come up with it," Wilson said. "Those are the plays that we have to make, and that I have to make. I make that play, and the offense doesn't have to go back out there and score points."

Fitzpatrick also put the blame on himself while explaining his game-changing throw that fell short of intended receiver Donald Jones along the right sideline.

"I got greedy in a situation that I did not have any business being greedy in," Fitzpatrick said. "It was a dumb throw. That one hurts."

The Bills (3-4) have lost three of four heading into their bye week.

"We had a good setup being 3-3 and the AFC East was still wide open," defensive end Chris Kelsay said. "We really put ourselves in a bind."

The Titans (3-4) have won two straight, picking up their first road victory after three consecutive losses.

Chris Johnson led the charge with 195 yards rushing and two TDs. He came into the game with 301 yards rushing and no scores, but he managed to continue his domination of the Bills. In three games against Buffalo, he's combined for 480 yards rushing and six touchdowns.

Backup running back Jamie Harper also scored twice, both on 1-yard plunges.

Fitzpatrick finished 27 of 35 for 225 yards and three scores, but turned the ball over twice, including a lost fumble.

The Bills' final drive sputtered, with Fitzpatrick failing to produce a first down. It ended with Fitzpatrick throwing behind Stevie Johnson on fourth-and-2.

Fitzpatrick continued the inconsistent play that has hampered Buffalo all season. He has 10 touchdown passes and nine interceptions in Buffalo's four losses, compared to five TDs and no picks in the three wins.

"He made a bad throw at the end, but other than that he played really, really well," Buffalo coach Chan Gailey said. "He made one bad throw."

Both of Fitzpatrick's turnovers led to Titans touchdowns. He did lift the Bills to their first and only lead when he hit Johnson for a 27-yard touchdown pass with 5 seconds left in the third quarter.

"We just need to do a better job, and I need to do a better job at the end of the game," Fitzpatrick said.

Buffalo's Fred Jackson had 71 yards rushing and 49 yards receiving and a touchdown. Brad Smith scored on an 89-yard kickoff return and Jones also scored on a 15-yard pass.

The game started off like a track meet with two of the NFL's most porous defenses unable to stop the offenses. The first half ended with the Titans up 21-20. The teams combined for 474 yards, 25 first downs and produced scores on all but one possession. Tennessee was stopped at the Buffalo 44 on its fourth possession.

There were three touchdowns in a span of 30 seconds during one frenetic stretch. It began when Fitzpatrick hit Jackson for a 3-yard touchdown pass to tie it at 7. The Titans scored on their first play from scrimmage on Johnson's 83-yard run. And the Bills responded with Smith's 89-yard kickoff return.

It was the shortest three-score span since the Raiders and Patriots scored three times in 26 seconds on Dec. 14, 2008, according to STATS LLC.


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