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Titans bully Bills in return from COVID-19 hiatus

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry scored twice in a win over the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday in Nashville. File Photo by David Tulis/UPI
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry scored twice in a win over the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday in Nashville. File Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 14 (UPI) -- The Tennessee Titans handed the Buffalo Bills their first loss of the season with a dominant performance in their first game in more than two weeks due to a team COVID-19 outbreak.

Tennessee (4-0) hadn't played since Sep. 27 before the 42-16 win on Tuesday in Nashville. The Titans played the Minnesota Vikings before the hiatus. The outbreak included 24 positive cases among Titans players and staff members since Sept. 24.

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"You don't all of a sudden galvanize when things are bad, and I think that is a testament to these players and what we've tried to build here," Titans coach Mike Vrabel told reporters.

"You don't say, 'There's a [expletive] storm, we better galvanize.' You stay tight throughout and hope your core values and core beliefs can take over when things get difficult."

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The Titans had their Oct. 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers postponed and were scheduled to play the Bills on Sunday before the game was moved back to Tuesday. Titans facilities were closed for more than a week due to the outbreak and the team had very limited in-person practice time ahead of Tuesday's game.

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The Titans showed no rust with in the 26-point thrashing of Buffalo.

"I'm going to keep it plain and simple: We expected to win," Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler said. "We don't need nobody to give us a chance. We give ourselves a chance. That's exactly what we did tonight."

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Butler intercepted Bills quarterback Josh Allen twice in the victory.

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Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed 21 of 28 passes for 195 yards and three scores. He also had a rushing touchdown. Derrick Henry had two rushing touchdowns in the win.

Allen completed 26 of 41 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns, in addition to his two turnovers.

"We got punched in the mouth early on," Allen said. "I can't do that to our defense. I put them in vulnerable positions and allowed their defense to have short fields. We have to be faster starters."

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Butler intercepted Allen on the first drive of the game. Tannehill threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Brown two plays later to give the Titans a 7-0 lead.

Allen then orchestrated a 15-play, 76-yard touchdown drive. He ended the drive with a three-yard touchdown toss to Isaiah McKenzie.

Henry helped his team retake the lead with a 1-yard rushing touchdown at the start of the second quarter. Bills kicker Tyler Bass followed with a 43-yard field goal.

Tannehill ended the half with a 10-yard rushing touchdown to give the Titans a 21-10 lead at the break.

The Titans turned another Allen interception into points in the third quarter. Butler picked off the Bills quarterback and had a 68-yard interception return to get the ball to the Buffalo 12-yard line.

Tannehill then threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jonnu Smith to give the Titans a 28-10 lead 1:52 before the fourth quarter.

Allen then led a 14-play, 105-yard touchdown drive to cut the Titans lead to 28-16. The Bills quarterback threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Yeldon to end that possession, but Buffalo failed a two-point conversion attempt after the score.

Henry ran in for a 9-yard score on the Titans next possession. The Titans then recovered a fumble on the kickoff, which led to another Tannehill touchdown toss to Smith for the final points of the game.

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"I felt really good coming in," Tannehill said. "There was great energy coming in, and guys were excited to come out and play.

"It has been a long couple of weeks, with ups and downs. We're playing, we're not playing. We're practicing, we're not practicing. We're on Zoom. We're in the building and out of the building.

"It has been a roller coaster in every which way. But our guys believe in each other, we stuck to the process."

The Titans host the Houston Texans at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday in Nashville. The Bills host the Kansas City Chiefs at 5 p.m. EDT on Monday in Orchard Park, N.Y.

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