Johnson Leads Titans to 23-17 Win Over Bills

Johnson rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Titans to a 23-17 win over the slumping Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Held to under 100 yards seven times in his first eight games, Johnson now has topped the century mark three times in his last four outings.

He scored on runs of 48 and 4 yards to match his season touchdown total. Kicker Rob Bironas did the rest, hitting three field goals, including a 44-yarder midway through the fourth quarter to put the Titans ahead 23-10.

The Bills (5-7) have lost five straight and are suddenly in jeopardy of going from first in the AFC East to a battle with Miami for last place in the division.

C.J. Spiller had a career-best 83 yards rushing and scored on a 35-yard touchdown run in his second start since Fred Jackson broke a bone in his leg. Receiver Stevie Johnson toned down his touchdown celebration after scoring on a 2-yard catch with 2:58 left to make the game close.

Johnson had been criticized for much of the past week over his celebration in a 28-24 loss to the New York Jets. Johnson was fined $10,000 by the NFL for mocking Jets receiver Plaxico Burress, pretending to shoot himself in the thigh. He was also flagged 15 yards for going to the ground in pretending to be a crashing plane.

This time, Johnson kept his arms to himself and politely handed the ball to the nearest official.

The Titans (7-5) converted two Bills turnovers into 10 points.

Rookie linebacker Colin McCarthy stripped Ryan Fitzpatrick on a fourth-and-3 scramble and recovered it at the Titans 43-yard line. Six plays later, Chris Johnson scored on a 4-yard scamper up the middle to put Tennessee up 17-7.

McCarthy also recovered tight end Scott Chandler’s fumble at the Titans 37 to end the Bills’ first possession of the second half. That set up a time-consuming 11-play, 64-yard drive capped by Bironas hitting a 27-yard field goal to give Tennessee a 20-10 lead.

Johnson had 190 yards rushing in a 23-17 win over Tampa Bay last weekend. Three weeks earlier, he had 130 yards in a 30-3 victory at Carolina.

Johnson rushed for 106 yards in the first half alone Sunday, more than his output in all but two other games this season. His best run came on the 48-yard touchdown, when he found a crease off right tackle, raced up the right sideline and outran defenders Aaron Williams and Da’Norris Searcy to the end zone.

The Bills ran out of time to manufacture a comeback. Getting the ball back at their own 15-yard line with 62 seconds left, their final drive ended with Fitzpatrick throwing three straight incompletions from his 46.

Fitzpatrick finished 29 of 46 for 288 yards.

The back-and-forth first half featured some electrifying and bizarre plays.

Spiller gave the Bills a 7-3 lead midway through the fourth quarter when he beat the Titans to the left corner and cut it up the sideline. He was chased down from behind by Michael Griffin, who punched the ball loose inside the 10-yard line. The ball ricocheted off Spiller’s left knee and was bouncing out of the end zone when the running back made a diving attempt to secure it before sliding out.

Officials initially ruled it a touchback, before reversing the call to a touchdown after replays showed Spiller had control of the ball while inbounds.

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Bills Draw Cheers in Canada; Beat Redskins 23-0

Ryan Fitzpatrick quickly made his expensive new contract pay off, and the Buffalo Bills finally gave their adopted — and sometimes indifferent — fans north of the border something big to cheer about.

Fitzpatrick hit tight end Scott Chandler for two touchdowns, and the Bills once porous defense had nine sacks and two interceptions to batter the already injury-riddled Washington Redskins 23-0 on Sunday.

It marked Buffalo’s first win in four trips to Toronto, since the cross-border series was established in 2008. They handed Redskins coach Mike Shanahan his first shutout loss in 24 seasons as an NFL coach or offensive coordinator, according to STATS LLC.

And surprise, surprise, the Bills were the ones drawing much of the applause days after safety George Wilson questioned Toronto fans’ passion and loyalty toward Buffalo.

“That was one of the things coming in, give them something to cheer about. And I thought we did that today,” said Fitzpatrick, who signed a six-year, $59 million contract two days earlier. “I think there was more excitement out there than there has been in years past.”

Fitzpatrick did his part in helping the Bills (5-2) open a season with four consecutive “home” wins for the first time since 1995.

And the defense proved dominating, coming out of its bye week off in limiting the Redskins to 178 yards and 10 first downs.

“It was a great overall performance,” said defensive end Spencer Johnson, who had a sack and blocked Graham Gano’s 49-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter. “To shut anybody out in the NFL, that’s a big feat, a big accomplishment and a big step in the right direction.”

The Redskins (3-4) have lost three straight and look nothing like the team that entered its bye week at 3-1.

“It’s pretty humbling to take that,” Shanahan said. “That’s as bad as I’ve ever been involved with from the offensive side.”

Washington continues to unravel as a result of such a growing list of injuries that would put a dent into Canada’s universal health care system.

Without running back Tim Hightower (knee), receiver Santana Moss (hand) and tight end Chris Cooley (knee), the John Beck-led attack managed 61 yards of offense and three first downs on six first-half possessions.

It didn’t get much better in the second half.

Their second drive of the half ended when Beck was sacked for a seventh time attempting to convert a fourth-and-4. The next time out, Beck was intercepted by Wilson.

“I kind of don’t have any answers right now,” Beck said, making his second straight start since replacing Rex Grossman. “I’m trying to figure that out myself. This is the one you want to see the tape, because it will be very telling.”

Beck went 20 of 33 for 208 yards.

With the Bills up 13-0 at the half, Fitzpatrick opened the third quarter with a seven-play, 80-yard drive, which he capped by hitting Chandler on a 15-yard fade in the left corner of the end zone.

Running back Fred Jackson had 120 yards rushing, and 74 receiving. With 1,074 yards from scrimmage, he became only the fourth Bills player to surpass 1,000 yards seven games into a season, and first since Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas in 1991.

The nine sacks is the second best total in team history, and two short of the record.

And they came with Buffalo minus two key starters, defensive tackle Kyle Williams (foot) and linebacker Shawne Merriman (Achilles tendon)

“I don’t think anybody expected that,” coach Chan Gailey said. “I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t expect that.”

Rookie first-round pick Marcell Dareus’ 2½ sacks led the way for a defense that entered the game with just four all season.

“I think this is the first complete game our team has played, and it’s only the beginning,” Dareus said. “The sky’s the limit.”

Fitzpatrick went 21 of 27 for 262 yards, and shook off a pair of turnovers and a big hit from linebacker London Fletcher.

Late in the first half, Fletcher caught Fitzpatrick high on the chest and bowled him over just as the quarterback completed a short pass to Jackson, who turned it into a 46-yard gain. Fitzpatrick was slow in getting up and then dropped to one knee.

After being attended to briefly by the training staff, Fitzpatrick stayed in the game to help set up Rian Lindell’s 44-yard field goal to put Buffalo up 13-0 as time ran out.

“I think the whole team had a collective gasp when they saw him down there trying to suck air,” Jackson said. “It was good for him to get back in there.”

Notes: There were notable pockets of Redskins fans throughout the Rogers Centre as part of an announced crowd of 51,579. Fans were late-arriving, as there were numerous empty seats throughout the 54,000-seat stadium. … The Bills did blame a false start on the cheering fans for doing the wave on a third-and-1 at the Redskins 16 in the fourth quarter. … Shanahan was the Broncos receivers coach in a 27-0 loss to the Bears on Sept. 9, 1984, the only other time he’s been blanked, according to STATS.

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Fitzpatrick Leads Bills to 41-7 Romp Over Chiefs

He made sure to choose his words carefully.

“We’re 1-0,” the veteran Bills running back said. “We haven’t won the . We still have a lot of work to do and a long way to go.”

Just not as far as they had last season.

With a retooled defense and composure oozing from career backup Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bills romped to a 41-7 victory in one of the most hostile venues in the NFL. Fitzpatrick threw four TD passes, Jackson ran for 112 yards, and a team that hasn’t reached the playoffs since the ’90s handed Kansas City its worst season-opening defeat in franchise history.

Two of Fitzpatrick’s four touchdowns went to Scott Chandler, a journeyman tight end who’d caught one pass in his career coming into the game. Buffalo wound up with 40 points in a season opener for the first time since beating the Los Angeles Rams 40-7 on Sept. 6, 1992.

“All those people that thought we were as bad as they thought we were, we’re not,” coach Chan Gailey said. “I do think we’re improved over last year. I thought we’d play well.”

Gailey certainly had reason to be pleased.

He was the offensive coordinator in Kansas City under Herm Edwards in 2008, and stayed on when Todd Haley was hired to take over the struggling club. Their marriage lasted all of three preseason games, and Haley fired Gailey a mere 13 days before the 2009 opener.

“It feels good,” Gailey acknowledged Sunday. “You’re lying if you say it doesn’t.”

David Nelson had four catches for 66 yards, Steve Johnson and Donald Jones each caught a touchdown pass, and the Bills rolled up 364 yards of total offense.

Their defense, much-maligned a year ago, was every bit as good.

The worst run-stuffing unit in the NFL last season held the league’s top rushing attack to 108 yards. Buffalo’s stout pass defense forced quarterback Matt Cassel into an assortment of dinks and dunks — 22 completions gained just 119 yards.

“I felt like we were prepared,” Cassel said. “We just didn’t come out and play well. … We all have to make a collective effort to get better.”

There’s certainly room for improvement.

Kansas City managed 213 yards of total offense, two fumbles turned into 10 points for Buffalo, and even reliable punter Dustin Colquitt had a problem with the shanks. The time of possession was almost a full quarter — 14 minutes, 4 seconds — in the Bills’ favor.

Even when Kansas City put together a promising drive, things went haywire.

Cassel appeared to find tight end Leonard Pope from 19 yards out for a touchdown early in the second quarter. The officials reviewed the play, though, and determined Pope’s left knee came down out of bounds while he was still juggling the ball.

Cassel was sacked by Spencer Johnson on the next play, the lost yardage turning a chip-shot field goal into an adventure. Ryan Succop pushed the 49-yard try wide right.

“It’s a team loss — special teams, defense, offense, everybody left plays out on the field,” linebacker Andy Studebaker said. “When you don’t execute on a consistent basis, it’s going to cost you points. And obviously, it cost us a lot of points today.”

The Chiefs finished last season with a pair of stinkers at Arrowhead Stadium, losing 31-10 to Oakland in their regular-season finale and 30-7 to Baltimore in the playoffs. They looked terrible in both their home preseason games, too.

Maybe things will be better for them on the road. They play at Detroit next Sunday.

“We weren’t very good,” Haley said. “We have to be better and we’re going to be better. I believe in their ability to steel their mind and stick together in the face of adversity as a team, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

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