Titans escape with one-point win in Buffalo
Orchard Park, NY – Matt Hasselbeck threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Nate Washington on fourth down with 1:03 remaining in the fourth quarter to lift the Tennessee Titans to a 35-34 come-from-behind win over the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The winning score was set up by a Ryan Fitzpatrick interception. Jason McCourty picked off the Buffalo quarterback at the Tennessee 48-yard line.
"It was a dumb throw, a dumb decision by me," Fitzpatrick said.
Hasselbeck was sacked on first down, but running back Chris Johnson, who scored his first two touchdowns of the season, moved the chains on 3rd-and-1 from the Buffalo 43 with a 27-yard gain. Facing a 4th-and-9, Hasselbeck hooked up with Washington in the back of the end zone.
"That's a huge play. Two guys stepping up, making a play to win the game," Titans coach Mike Munchak said.
The Titans (3-4) prevailed with their first road victory when Fitzpatrick's fourth-down pass landed on the turf, short of intended target Stevie Johnson.
Hasselbeck completed 22-of-33 passes for 205 yards, while Chris Johnson finished with 195 yards on 18 carries. Jamie Harper added two short touchdown runs in Tennessee's second straight win and fifth in a row against the Bills (3-4).
Prior to the interception, Fitzpatrick had thrown three touchdown passes. He also lost a fumble early in the third quarter that led to a Tennessee score.
The second half got off to a promising start for the Bills as Leodis McKelvin returned the kickoff 46 yards. But following a false start penalty, Titans defensive end Kamerion Wimbley forced a fumble on a sack. Derrick Morgan recovered the ball for Tennessee at the Buffalo 32-yard line and the turnover resulted in Harper's second trip to the end zone.
Fitzpatrick rebounded to throw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Donald Jones and hit Stevie Johnson for a 27-yard downfield strike that put the Bills up 34-28 with five seconds to play in the third quarter.
Buffalo didn't punt until there was just under six minutes left. And Shawn Powell's kick was a poor one, traveling only 22 yards.
Tennessee started from the Buffalo 46, but wound up turning the ball over on downs before its defense made a game-changing play.
The Titans and Bills both piled up yardage and scored a plethora of points in an action-packed first half.
Hasselbeck completed all five of his passes for 52 yards on the game's opening drive, which Chris Johnson capped with a 16-yard touchdown run.
Fitzpatrick was equally impressive on the Bills' first possession. He connected on 6-of-7 throws, including a screen pass to C.J. Spiller on third down that set up a 1st-and-goal. Two plays later, Fred Jackson caught a short toss for a 3-yard touchdown.
On the first play of Tennessee's next drive, Johnson ran for an 83-yard touchdown. But the Bills' special teams unit countered with a big play of their own as Brad Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for a score.
Hasselbeck then converted a quartet of third downs with completions before Harper restored the lead for the visitors.
Buffalo moved the ball into the red zone, but settled for a 31-yard Rian Lindell field goal.
After the Titans' next series resulted in the game's first punt, Lindell closed out the half by drilling a 42-yarder.
Tennessee totaled 260 yards of offense through two quarters, while the Bills finished with 214.
Fitzpatrick, who connected on 27-of-35 throws, became the fourth Bills QB to reach 70 career touchdown passes ... Chris Johnson became the third player in club history to reach 40 career rushing TDs. He eclipsed 100 yards rushing for the 30th time in his career ... Smith's kickoff return for a touchdown was his first since Dec. 19, 2010, when he was a member of the Jets.