Titans vs. Bills: Chris Johnson Is Back and so Is Tennessee

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistOctober 21, 2012

Johnson pranced his way to nearly 200 yards against Buffalo.
Johnson pranced his way to nearly 200 yards against Buffalo.Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE

All it took to get Chris Johnson back on track was a visit to the worst run defense in football.

The one-time all-world running back was devastating against the Buffalo Bills, piling up 195 yards rushing yards and two scores to help the visiting Titans eek out a 35-34 win on the road.

It was a typical 2012 Titans win, featuring a lot of points, lackluster defense and wild ending.

Early on, the game was back and forth as the teams traded big-play scores.

With the score already tied at 7-7, Johnson answered the first Bills touchdown with an 83-yard burst to give Tennessee a short-lived lead.

It only held up until the ensuing kickoff, as Brad Smith of Buffalo returned it 89 yards to tie the game.

Tennessee put up seven more in its next drive, marking 21 points in just three possessions to open the game. Buffalo responded with a pair of field goals to make it a 21-20 game at halftime.

Every time the Titans put together a scoring drive, it seemed Buffalo had a ready-made response.

The Titans defense was putrid, allowing over 30 points for the sixth time in seven games, but they came up with a couple of game-changing plays when they had to.

Early in the third quarter, Kamerion Wimbley sacked Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, forcing a fumble that the Titans recovered at the Bills' 32-yard line.

Then, with 3:03 to play, Jason McCourty picked off Fitzpatrick at the Titans' 48-yard line. Tennessee trailed by six at the time, and another Bills first down could have virtually snuffed out the Titans' last embers of hope.

Instead, the Titans capitalized on their new life thanks to another long run by Johnson. It appeared their last-ditch drive would stall out inside the Bills' 20, but on 4th-and-9 from the Buffalo 15, Matt Hasselbeck found Nate Washington for the go-ahead score.

The Titans produced just one sack and two turnovers on the day, but both led to touchdowns.

Tennessee now stands at 3-4 and poised to make a second-half run in the AFC. It can even its record with a win at home against division rival Indianapolis, but beyond that, the terrain is rocky at best.

Six of nine remaining opponents are .500 or better, but the Titans do get five more home games.

Even with the win today, the Titans know full well the string of 30-point days for the opposition has to come to an end.

If it doesn't, the playoffs will remain a wish rather than a reality.