The Tennessee Titans didn't play a lot of defense on Monday night. But they did stop Josh Allen from getting a half a yard when he needed it most.
The Buffalo Bills gambled on fourth down and less than a yard in the final seconds. Instead of taking a field goal to tie it, the Bills went for the first down inside the 5-yard line. And when Allen took the snap for the quarterback sneak, he didn't seem to get great footing and the Titans defense stopped him cold.
The Titans, carried by Derrick Henry's three-touchdown night, escaped with a thrilling 34-31 win.
If the Titans go on to win the AFC South, or the Bills fail to get the No. 1 seed in the AFC by a game, that fourth-down decision and the failed execution will loom large.
Bills-Titans had a ton of scoring
The game was a shootout from the start.
Derrick Henry busted a 76-yard run, recording the fastest time for any ball carrier in the NFL this season at 21.8 miles per hour. Julio Jones caught a pass after his bounced off Bills safety Micah Hyde's head. Bills quarterback Josh Allen threw three touchdowns, then caught a two-point conversion from tight end Dawson Knox on the Bills' version of "Philly Special."
It was a wild game, and that was before the conclusion.
The Bills grabbed a 31-24 lead early in the fourth quarter on the Allen two-point conversion catch. The Titans came back with a field goal and then a rare occurrence for Monday night: a stop on defense. Tennessee went on another drive after that, capped by Henry's third touchdown run with 3:05 left to take a 34-31 lead.
The best news for the Bills was that they had the ball and they had a break from Henry running through them. And the Bills almost won it.
Bills' final drive comes up just short
There were seven lead changes on Monday night, which tied a "Monday Night Football" record, according to ESPN's broadcast booth. There was almost an eighth to set the record.
The Bills almost had a great play to take back the lead, when Isaiah McKenzie broke a long kickoff return for a touchdown, but it was called back for a holding penalty.
That didn't bother Allen. He hit Emmanuel Sanders for 31 yards. Then Zack Moss made a nice catch for a 12-yard gain. The Bills were already getting close to field-goal position. A little while later Allen made an incredible throw rolling right, back to the middle of the field where he hit Gabriel Davis right in the hands. That put the ball at the Titans 12-yard line. It was the kind of throw not many quarterbacks could make.
Allen looked like he had a first down inside the 5-yard line on a third-down run in which he tried jumping over Titans defenders, but he landed a half-yard short. That's when Bills coach Sean McDermott decided to go for the first down and try for the win instead of taking the short field goal for overtime.
The call to go for it wasn't bad. Allen just couldn't get enough traction, and the Titans didn't let him go anywhere.