It was a game the final score failed to illustrate how close both teams played Sunday, yet the Bills came away with relatively few bright spots in a 41-17 defeat. The defensive unit heads back to the drawing boards this week once again hoping to shore up their issues, but the one player who continues to shine is Jairus Byrd.
The lingering effects of an injury he suffered two weeks ago against Houston didn't stop Byrd from making a statement Sunday. The rookie continued his torrid pace of takeaways, intercepting his eighth pass of the season in the second quarter. On a third down play from their own 35, Titans quarterback Vince Young threw a deep ball for Lavelle Hawkins, and Byrd jumped the receiver's route to secure the pick.
The Bills are 2-3 in games featuring a Byrd interception, and 2-1 when he records two interceptions. Although the offense had to punt after his interception, a number of them have set up solid field position evidenced by touchdowns scored on four of his eight takeaways.
The organization selected the Oregon product for his ball hawking skills, and Byrd has failed to disappoint on a defensive unit with few positives this season.
His pick Sunday makes Byrd the first NFL player with an interception in five consecutive games since Champ Bailey in 2005. He is also the third rookie since 1960 with an interception streak of five games.
Byrd has also set a team record with five consecutive games with an interception. He now ties the record for most interceptions in a season by a rookie with eight since Archie Matsos in 1960. Through 10 weeks, Byrd has three multi-interception games and three with one apiece.
In terms of league rankings, Byrd takes sole possession of first among all NFL players overtaking the Saints Darren Sharper (7). He will need six more to tie the record for most interceptions in a season, held by Los Angeles Rams Hall of Famer Dick (Night Train) Lane with 14 in 1952.
The Bills rank first in league in interceptions with 16 total.
Two TDs for 83Lee Evans recorded two touchdown receptions Sunday, giving him a total of five on the season. Now in his sixth year with the club, Evans recorded his seventh multi-touchdown game of his career and now ranks sixth on the team's all-time touchdown list (37). With the scores, Evans moves into third on the franchise's list for touchdown receptions passing Elbert Dubenion.
On the Bills first possession, Fred Jackson took a direct snap from a Wildcat formation and fired a pass deep left to a wide open Evans for a 27 yard touchdown. Early in the second quarter, Trent Edwards hooked up with Evans from eight yards out narrowing the Titans lead to three. Evans walled off his defender and made a nice grab on the left corner of the end zone.
"It was a designed play," said Evans. "One that we've been working on. I told him just to put it out there. It was just a well executed play. There's nothing more you can say about it. He did a good job of selling it and just put it out there."
Terrell Owens had the most productive game in terms of yardage since joining the Bills in March. The receiver didn't find the end zone but caught three balls for a season-high 85 yards, including a 46 yard reception in the second quarter. On a second-and-three play, Edwards heaved a long throw to a streaking Owens past two defenders on the right sideline. This connection set up the Bills second touchdown two plays later.
The 14-year veteran has now caught passes in 193 of 198 career NFL games
Owens now has 26 receptions on the season, and needs 23 more to become the sixth player in NFL history with 1,000 receptions. He increased his career receiving yards to 14,488, and needs 92 to surpass Marvin Harrison for fourth on the all-time list.
Wild BillFred Jackson ran for a team-high 48 yards on eight attempts, increasing his season total to 493. Entering the game, he was ranked ninth in the AFC in rushing yards (445).
However, Jackson reached a new milestone throwing his first career pass for a touchdown to Lee Evans. The 27-yard completion came on the Bills first drive as Jackson took a direct snap from a Wildcat package, faked the handoff inside and threw a bullet to Evans for an easy score.
The last four pass attempts by Bills non-quarterbacks have been for touchdowns, and Sunday was the eighth time a Bills non-quarterback has completed a touchdown pass—the longest since 1969. This season the Bills also have completions from two different non-quarterbacks since 1980 when Greg Cater and Joe Cribbs accomplished the feat.
Lastly, Jackson's 167 kickoff returns yards were the second straight game with a 100-plus kickoff return yards.
OT ShuffleDemetrius Bell hurt his knee near the end of the second quarter and the first-year left tackle did not return.
Rookie Andy Levitre moved from left guard to tackle, a position he played at Oregon State, and Seth McKinney filled in at left guard for the remainder of the game. Kirk Chambers started at right tackle for Jonathan Scott, who didn't make the trip for personal reasons.