NFL

Tannehill scores 4 TDs as depleted Titans rout Bills despite recent COVID-19 outbreak

Ryan Tannehill threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as the Titans routed the Buffalo Bills 42-16 on a rare Tuesday night in a showdown between two of the NFL's five remaining undefeated teams pushed back two days after a couple more positive tests for Tennessee last week.

Game pushed back 2 days after Tennessee reported new cases last week

Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill, left, attempts a pass during the Titans' 42-16 win against the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday. (Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

The wait between games caused by the NFL's first COVID-19 outbreak left the Tennessee Titans depleted.

They're still undefeated.

Ryan Tannehill threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as the Titans routed the Buffalo Bills 42-16 on a rare Tuesday night in a showdown between two of the NFL's five remaining undefeated teams pushed back two days after a couple more positive tests for Tennessee last week.

The Titans (4-0) continued their best start since winning their first 10 games in 2008 despite getting on the field the past three days since their last game Sept. 27 in Minnesota. Coach Mike Vrabel said everyone in the organization would get a game ball after this performance.

"I learned a long time ago is the definition of a pro is they make the hard look easy, so whatever situation we're presented with we got to all come together and make the best decisions for the team each and every time," Vrabel said.

Malcolm Butler intercepted two passes, the second he returned 68 yards, and both set up short touchdowns for Tennessee. Kareem Orr's recovery of a fumbled kickoff set up Tannehill's fourth TD for 21 points off Buffalo's three turnovers. Kalif Raymond's 40-yard punt return also set up a 1-yard TD run by Derrick Henry.

"We expected to win," Butler said.

The Bills (4-1) had not won five straight games since 2004, and they came in looking for the franchise's best start since 1991 when Buffalo reached the Super Bowl. They also played without starting cornerbacks with Tre'Davious White inactive because of a back injury and Levi Wallace on injured reserve.

Starting wide receiver John Brown also was out for Buffalo, which had scored at least 30 points in the past three games.

Beat like a drum

Buffalo centre Mitch Morse called this a gut-punch.

"It's tough, they came out and beat us like a drum," Morse said. "Kudos to them, and we have a lot to learn from."

Josh Allen came in second in the NFL in yards passing. He threw for 263 yards and two TDs. Stephon Diggs had 10 catches for 106 yards.

The Titans needed the turnovers with seven key players on the reserve/COVID-19 list led by wide receivers Corey Davis and Adam Humphries and defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons. They also were missing a couple assistant coaches and two players activated off that reserve list earlier Tuesday were scratched.

The Titans got a big boost on the Bills' opening drive.

Allen's pass went off Andre Roberts' hands right to Butler, and he returned the interception 29 yards to the Bills 16. Two plays later, Tannehill hit A.J. Brown, who missed the last two games with an injured knee, for a 16-yard TD for the quick lead.

The Bills tied it up with a methodical 15-play drive converting four third downs, taking advantage of a Titans' defence playing a pair of rookies in end Larrell Murchison and cornerback Chris Jackson. Allen tossed the ball to Isaiah McKenzie for a 3-yard TD tying it up, the ninth different Bill to catch a TD pass from Allen.

The Titans scored 21 of the next 24 points.

Tennessee led 21-10 at halftime after Tannehill ran in from 10 yards seconds before the half. Butler refused to go down after picking off an Allen throw to Gabriel Davis late in the third, and Tannehill found Jonnu Smith for a 4-yard TD and a 28-10 lead three plays later.

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