The Buffalo Bills were in the driver's seat Sunday until one mistake cost them the game.
The mistake? Ryan Fitzpatrick threw an interception with less than three minutes to go. Tennessee got the ball back, drove down the field and scored with a minute to go to take the lead.
The Titans went on to win 35-34.
It was a frustrating end to the game for the Bills. The offensive unit played well, but the Fitzpatrick interception was the low point. The defense couldn't stop the Titans when it counted.
Here is the Week 7 report card:
GRADING THE UNITS
OFFENSE - B
The rushing and passing attacks were solid Sunday. The Titans defense (much like the Bills defense) couldn't stop much of anything. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller both had 70+ yards rushing and combined to catch 14 passes for 81 yards. Stevie Johnson also had a nice day, catching five passes for 71 yards and a touchdown.
Up until the interception, Fitzpatrick was having a good game. But that interception will haunt him. You could argue that the play call was questionable (why not run the ball with a six-point lead in the fourth quarter?) but ultimately, Fitzpatrick has to be smarter.
DEFENSE - D-
The Bills defense was missing in action this week. The first half was bad, as the Titans ran all over the Bills. Chris Johnson had a big game (195 yards rushing and two touchdowns) and the Bills couldn't stop the Titans on third down (Tennessee converted 9 of 14 third down opportunities).
Some sports writers feel the Bills players should be held accountable. I agree with that, but I think it ignores the fact that this defensive unit is not being coached properly. Dave Wannstedt needs to go. He isn't cutting it as a coordinator.
The Bills need to get their linebackers involved in the pass rush. They need to improve the secondary. Certainly the front four could play a lot better. But the coaching is atrocious. Changes need to be made.
SPECIAL TEAMS - B+
The return game was great again. The highlight: Brad Smith's 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Leodis McKelvin had two good kick returns, including a 46-yarder. Rian Lindell kicked two field goals -- his first multi-field goal game of the season.
This score would have been an A, but Shawn Powell's punt in the fourth quarter was abysmal. Powell hasn't looked good lately. It might be time to cut him loose and go with another option. You can't have your punter enter the game, kick a 22-yard punt, and leave your opposition with great field position.
Other than the punt, it was a good day for the Bills special teams unit.
COACHING - D
I'm sick of this coaching staff. Dave Wannstedt isn't cutting it as defensive coordinator. The Bills have one of the worst defensive units in the league, even though they spent a lot of money to improve the "D." The players need to play better. No doubt about it. But they are playing in a scheme that is ineffective.
As for Chan Gailey, I question two of his decisions. The decision to pass on third down late in the game was a questionable one. (Fitzpatrick threw an interception on the play.) Here's my question: Why not run it? If you don't get the first down running the ball, you punt the ball away and force Tennessee to drive down the field with a little more than two minutes to go in the game. Instead, the Titans only had to go 52 yards and scored with 1:03 left to win it.
The other decision I question is not going for two after scoring two touchdowns in the third quarter. The Bills should have gone for two after one of those touchdowns. They didn't and they ended up losing by one point.
Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. The Bills running backs had a nice day. Jackson and Spiller's combined statistics: 141 rushing yards, 81 receiving yards and one touchdown. They did their jobs today.
Ryan Fitzpatrick. I'll stick with Fitzpatrick in this slot again this week. If you ignore the interception, he had a good game. He threw two touchdown strikes to Johnson and Donald Jones. But the interception is all everyone will be talking about. It was a bad mistake and in those situations, he has to be better.
The Bills have a bye week next week. After the bye, the Bills travel to Houston for a 1 p.m. game against the Texans.