The Buffalo Bills gave LeSean McCoy plenty of opportunities Sunday, and it paid off.
McCoy had 26 touches and 108 total yards in the Bills' 13-12 win Sunday over the Tennessee Titans. Josh Allen had the Bills' lone touchdown when he scored on a 14-yard run in the first quarter.
The rest of the scoring was provided by kicker Steven Hauschka, who had two field goals in the victory. The Bills kicker booted a 46-yard field goal as time expired to win the game.
Allen struggled for most of the game, finishing with 82 passing yards and an interception. Despite the rookie's poor outing, the Bills defense picked up the slack.
The Bills forced three turnovers, including a fumble on the Titans' opening drive. Tremaine Edmunds stripped the ball and it was recovered by Matt Milano. Allen scored on the ensuing drive.
With the win, the Bills improve to 2-3. The Titans fall to 3-2.
Here is the Buffalo Bills Week 5 report card:
Josh Allen didn't play well. Aside from his 14-yard touchdown run, he couldn't get a lot done with his arm. There are going to be growing pains with rookie quarterbacks, but there are many areas Allen needs to improve upon. His accuracy remains an issue. Even on some completions, the throws were low and cost the receivers a chance to get extra yardage. Allen is a work-in-progress, but the Bills need him to improve. He needs to progress. So far this season, he has been inconsistent.
The Bills got the rushing attack going Sunday. It wasn't always pretty, but the Bills finished with 144 rushing yards. LeSean McCoy led the team with 24 carries for 85 yards. Chris Ivory had 43 rushing yards, including some critical runs down the stretch. The Bills needed to get those two more involved, and it paid off. McCoy and Ivory are a great two-headed monster. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll just needs to find a way to get them more involved.
The best play of the day came late in the fourth quarter when Ray-Ray McCloud caught a screen pass and picked up a first down on the game-winning drive. Otherwise, the receivers were mostly quiet. Part of the blame goes to Allen, who made some bad throws. But the receivers didn't do themselves any favors either. Andre Holmes had a pass go through his hands that resulted in an interception. That almost proved costly in such a close, low scoring game. It's clear the receiving corps is a liability that the Bills will have to address in the offseason.
Overall, a solid performance for this unit. The Bills didn't have a good yards-per-carry average, but they did rack up 144 rushing yards. They provided Allen good protection throughout the game. Dion Dawkins had one of the key plays of the game when he delivered a great block on Ray-Ray McCloud's 7-yard reception late in the fourth quarter.
Offensive MVP: LeSean McCoy. "Shady" is back. He had 24 carries for 85 yards and added two catches for 23 yards, including a 13-yarder on the game-winning drive. He didn't score a touchdown, but he made other plays to help the Bills offense advance the ball. It wasn't a pretty offensive performance for the Bills. McCoy was one of the bright spots.
The defensive line was stellar against the Titans. New addition Jordan Phillips chipped in with three tackles and a pass defended. Jerry Hughes had four tackles (four solo) and a sack. He could've had a second sack, but he appeared to release Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota because he was concerned with getting a penalty for roughing the quarterback. The front four also played a role in limiting the Titans' rushing attack. Tennessee had 25 carries for 100 yards as a team, but 29 of those yards came on two runs. Shaq Lawson forced a fumble in the win. Trent Murphy had a sack.
A masterful performance by the linebackers. Lorenzo Alexander had his share of good plays. One that stuck out: He read a screen pass and tackled Dion Lewis for a loss. It was a superb play by the veteran linebacker. Matt Milano was a force again. He led the Bills with 10 tackles (seven solo) and a tackle for a loss. He also had a fumble recovery after rookie middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds stripped the ball away from a Titans receiver. Edmunds finished with eight tackles (four solo), the forced fumble, a pass defended and a quarterback hit. The trio of Alexander, Edmunds and Milano have been good for most of the season. The Bills can win games when the linebacking group plays this well.
Another game where Taron Johnson showcased his abilities. He had an interception and chipped in with four tackles (four solo). The rookie has been excellent in the slot, although he did get lucky when Titans receiver Nick Williams slid behind him and nearly had a touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter. Regardless, Johnson had a good game. The rest of his secondary mates did, too. Jordan Poyer had three tackles (three solo), a tackle for a loss and a fumble recovery. The Bills didn't have Micah Hyde, but Dean Marlowe was a good substitute. He had a good game in the defensive backfield.
Defensive MVP: Tremaine Edmunds. It's tough to single out one player after this defensive performance, but Edmunds was one of the stars. His forced fumble in the first quarter led to the Bills' only touchdown. He will continue to grow as a player, but there's no question he brings a great skill set to the Bills defense. He has been excellent this season.
Kicking and punting
Steven Hauschka booted two field goals, including the game-winning 46-yarder. He could've had a third field goal, but punter Corey Bojorquez somehow believed it was a fake field goal. The problem? The Bills didn't line up for a fake. That cost the Bills three points in a close game. Fortunately for Bojorquez, it didn't affect the outcome of the game.
Bojorquez averaged 43.8 yards per punt and pinned the Titans inside the 20 once. He entered the NFL as the league leader in that category.
Kick coverage and returns
The Bills' coverage wasn't good in the first half. Titans returner Darius Jennings had a 33-yard kickoff return and Nick Williams added a 38-yard punt return. You can't give up that kind of yardage on returns in today's NFL. Teams will make you pay if you give them short fields to work with.
There wasn't much on the return front for the Bills. Taiwan Jones had a 27-yard kickoff return and Ray-Ray McCloud had an 8-yard punt return.
Special teams MVP: Steven Hauschka. Hauschka hasn't had a lot of opportunities to kick field goals this season. When called upon Sunday, he converted two field goal attempts. The most important kick, though, was the game-winning 46-yard field goal.
OTHER GRADES AND FACTS
Overall team performance
The offense needs to be better. The defense won this one, though. The Bills defense forced turnovers, held the Titans to four field goals and helped take some pressure off the offense. A nice win for the Bills, and the first home victory of the 2018 season.
Stats of the game
3. The Bills forced three turnovers in the win over the Titans. Matt Milano and Jordan Poyer had fumble recoveries, and Taron Johnson registered an interception. In both of the Bills' wins this season, the defense has forced multiple turnovers. That's a big help.
26. The number of touches LeSean McCoy had against the Titans. He carried the ball 24 times and added two receptions. Entering Sunday's game, he had 29 touches this season. McCoy needs to play a bigger role in the offense. Hopefully Sunday was a starting point.
43. The total number of rushing attempts for the Bills. There was a greater emphasis on the run in Sunday's game. Between the rushing attack and the defense's success, the Bills were able to win a tight game.
Josh Allen needs some help. Yes, he needs to play better. But he also needs a better group of wide receivers. There isn't a real receiving threat on this game, and it will only hurt Allen's development if opposing defenses aren't concerned about any of the Bills' receivers. That appears to be the case now. Would you be scared going up against Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones and Andre Holmes? Didn't think so. Allen needs better receivers.
The Bills (2-3) will play at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14 against the Houston Texans. The game will be televised on CBS.