From his own 20 with less than seven minutes to play in the third quarter, quarterback Tyrod Taylor scrambled for five yards off the left edge. It was a tame play, but it was the beginning of the drive that began to swing the game in the Bills' favor.
The Bills offense possessed the ball for just 12 of the game's first 38 minutes. Trailing 10-0, they took over midway through the third quarter needing a jolt. That jolt ended up being Taylor's legs.
Three-and-a-half minutes later, the Bills offense faced a third-and-four from their own 48-yard line. Taylor broke off the longest play of the game to that point. The quarterback nicknamed "T-Mobile" took off down the middle of the field, slipping out of tackles and sidestepping defenders on his way to the Titans' 26-yard line, a 26-yard gain.
The dash was vintage Taylor, and it kick started the offense. But he wasn't finished. After a four-yard run from newcomer Boom Herron and offsetting penalties, Taylor was on the move again, this time on a designed quarterback draw.
Taking off up the middle, Taylor changed direction at the 20, darting towards the left sideline. Then he tight-roped the last 10 yards to the end zone for a 22-yard score, the Bills first touchdown of the game. While the play couldn't have been made without his athleticism, it was also set up by a key block from wide receivers Robert Woods and Chris Hogan in tandem, as the two took out two Titans' defenders with their downfield blocking.
"There are two plays called in the huddle and we got up and they gave us the look that we wanted to get and was able to make a play," said Taylor. "A bunch of great blocking on that play. Woods did a great job of coming back and sealing the corner so I could come around and get the edge."
"He's a dangerous guy when he gets into space," Woods said. "Even if [they] have one or two guys there, he's probably going to make them miss."
"We obviously started slow, but Tyrod stepped up and made a play," said Hogan. "With him back there, you know you always have to be prepared. He can go anywhere, so you always have to be prepared to block down field. Robert and I made a pretty good block outside, and Tyrod made a play for us when we needed it. It was big time."
On their next offensive drive, trailing 10-7, the Bills faced a third-and-23 from their own seven-yard line. The Titans had all of Taylor's options covered, except for is most dangerous one. With the middle of the field wide open, Taylor scampered for an improbable, 24-yard first down. The Titans gave him a chance to beat them with his legs, and he jumped on it.
Taylor rushed for 76 yards on the day, a Bills single-game record for a quarterback. Although he totaled 79 yards before taking three snaps in the victory formation, he still eclipsed the previous record of 74. Additionally, he threw a touchdown pass—this time the go ahead score to Hogan—for his fifth straight game as the Bills starter, becoming the fourth quarterback in franchise history to do so. He joins Kyle Orton and Drew Bledsoe on this list.
So it was more than just the quarterback's legs that propped up his offense in Tennessee. While he completed only 10 passes, two of them provided a huge lift. He hit Hogan along the right sideline on a 46-yard bomb, setting up a touchdown to Hogan from the two-yard line.
On the play before the touchdown, Taylor caught a pass on a read-option play that gave Hogan the ball behind the line of scrimmage. Taylor speared the throw from the left-handed Hogan with one hand, something he predicted earlier in the week.
"I told [Hogan] in practice that I was going to catch it with one hand," Taylor said. "I was just joking, but in the game it happened."
All of this after the Bills offense managed just 52 yards, and zero points, in the first half.
Taylor's big second half breathed new life into the offense with his legs, arm, and hands, and head coach Rex Ryan was sure to acknowledge his hand-picked quarterbacks efforts.
"(Our) quarterback has the biggest heart," Ryan said. "He's tough, he's courageous. Man, it was tough sledding, but he has guts. At the end of the day he's the reason we won the game."