The 2015 Buffalo Bills season may have not had the end result that many fans had hoped for after an exciting offseason, but there were still some memorable moments to look back on. At Building The Herd we asked you to tell us your favorite plays from the season, so that we could go back and break down the X’s and O’s that made them work. Tyrod Taylor’s 24-yard run against the Tennessee Titans got the most responses, so I decided to take a look at not just that specific play, but the entire drive that ultimately secured a victory for the Bills.
Tyrod Taylor’s Game-Winning Drive vs Tennessee Titans
In Week 5, the Buffalo Bills took on the Tennesee Titans without LeSean McCoy or Sammy Watkins in the starting lineup. The game was one of the most boring of the season, as both team’s offenses were stagnant throughout the entire contest. The Bills trailed half-way through the fourth quarter after the Titans kicked a field goal to go up 13-7, giving Tyrod Taylor the ball with 9:36 to go in the game.
After a two yard run by Anthony Dixon and an incompletion to Percy Harvin, Tyrod Taylor connected with Harvin for a 10-yard gain and a first down. However, a holding penalty by Seantrel Henderson negated the play and pushed the Bills’ offense back to the 11-yard line and made it 3rd-and-19. On the very next snap, Henderson was penalized for a false start, pushing the Bills back to their own six-yard line and putting the team in a disadvantageous 3rd-and-24. Tyrod Taylor stepped up and made a huge play to move the chains and keep the Bills alive.
Situation: 4th Quarter, 8:34 remaining, 13-7 Titans Lead
Down-and-Distance, 3rd-and-24 from 6-yard line
With 24 yards needed to move the sticks, the Bills’ offense comes out in “11” personnel—one running back, one tight end and three wide receivers. Tyrod Taylor is in the shotgun with Boobie Dixon to his right. The Bills have trips to the left of the formation with tight end Charles Clay flexed into the slot.
The Titans are in a nickel defense with four down defensive linemen, two linebackers on the edge and five defensive backs. The Bills run “four verts” meaning all four receiving targets run go routes and there’s typically sight-adjustments for one or more of the wideouts. This means that a receiver will either continue his vertical route or break into a post or corner at the top of the route stem based on the coverage of the safety.
The Titans have a six-man front, as the two edge linebackers are on the line of scrimmage, but one is assigned to Charles Clay. They bring a five-man blitz with a stunt on the inside by Jurrell Casey, who’s aligned over rookie right guard John Miller. Stunts are a good way to confuse offensive linemen as some will struggle to execute their assignment and pick up the stunting defender while passing off the other to his teammate. Tackles Cordy Glenn and Seantrel Henderson are responsible for the defensive ends, who are each in a wide alignment, while running back Boobie Dixon stays home to pick up the blitzing linebacker.
At the snap, Richie Incognito and Eric Wood combo-block the three-technique defensive tackle, but as Jurrell Casey loops around on his stunt, Incognito sees it and picks him up perfectly. John Miller comes to provide help to Eric Wood against the three-technique.
Cordy Glenn, Seantrel Henderson and Boobie Dixon all execute their blocks and are able to push the edge rushers behind the pocket. With all of the Bills’ receivers running go routes, the Titans’ defenders are forced to cover them deep. This, along with the great blocking by the interior linemen provide a huge void in the middle of the field. Tyrod Taylor sees this and takes off, picking up 25-yards, just one more yard than was needed to convert for a first down.
A horse-collar penalty at the end of the play not only injures Taylor, who sits out for only one play with what was eventually revealed to be a torn MCL, but it tacked on an additional 15-yards to the run, giving Buffalo the ball at their own 46-yard line.
After an EJ Manuel handoff to Boom Herron that picks up a yard, Taylor comes back into the game.
Situation: 4th Quarter, 7:46 remaining, 13-7 Titans Lead
Down-and-Distance: 2nd-and-9 from own 47-yard line
The Bills are still in “11” personnel here, but this time, Charles Clay is attached to the line of scrimmage as a traditional tight end. The Titans are still in a nickel package, with the strong safety in the box.
Boobie Dixon, Clay and Robert Woods all run short hitch routes while Percy Harvin and Chris Hogan—who’s in the slot—run go routes.
At the snap, the strong safety in the box bites on Charles Clay’s hitch, while the free safety rolls over to help defend the deep route. Tyrod Taylor has a clean pocket and delivers a beautiful and catchable ball to Chris Hogan for a gain of 46 yards.
Buffalo calls timeout, and after two plays, they’re at Tennessee’s two-yard line.
Situation: 4th quarter, 5:30 remaining, 13-7 Titans Lead
Down-and-Distance: 3rd-and-Goal, TEN 2-yard line
Buffalo is in “11” personnel with Charles Clay attached to the line of scrimmage to the left of the formation, with trips to the right. Robert Woods is in the slot and runs a vertical route, while Percy Harvin and Chris Hogan—again in the slot—run crossing routes that set up a pick on the Titan’s defenders.
Playing man coverage, the Titans’ two cornerbacks defending Harvin and Hogan collide into each other from the rub route and Hogan is wide open in the flat. It’s an easy throw for Tyrod and the Bills get a one-point lead that they hold to secure a win.