Well they sure scared everyone when they gave up two field goals right away in the first quarter of today’s game against Detroit Lions, but the Tennessee Titans were able to maintain control throughout the game, taking off on a massive scoring rampage that they have been holding in for the past two weeks.
It seemed as though everything just clicked today for the Titans, from kicker Rob Bironas coming through when it counted most, to the remaking of the “Music City Miracle” play from 1999, this time with Darius Reynaud to Tommie Campbell for a 65-yard punt return.
And that was just the first half. The Titans were able to come home to Nashville and put an important notch in the win column. This was a game that puts into perspective what this Titans team is capable of doing. Where this team was in these past two weeks, nobody is sure. However, as some of the players have stated, they are not happy with the way they played against the New England Patriots or San Diego Chargers.
Jared Cook made the comment last week after the brutal loss to the Chargers, “Everybody should be pissed. If you are not pissed, you should not be on this team. We’re a better team than this.”
But the performance against the Lions was different. Before the first half was even over, the Titans scored more points than in in their first two games combined, having scored only 13 against the Patriots and 10 at San Diego.
The keys to today’s big win:
1) Rob Bironas is one of the league’s most solid kickers. Today he grabbed two field goals, tying a franchise record for the Titans. His first field goal came in the 1st quarter to give the Titans time to breathe as they went down 0-6 right away.
2) The “Music City Miracle 2.0 – This has to be one of the top ten plays of not only this game, but all around the NFL today. The Titans were able to successfully recreate a play they haven’t attempted since 1999 against the Buffalo Bills in a wild card playoff game. The play came when Darius Reynaud fielded a Detroit punt only to toss a lateral pass to Tommie Campbell who returned the ball 65 yards for a touchdown.
3) Right after the miracle play by Reynard and Campbell, Jake Locker connected with Jared Cook for a 61-yard touchdown and the Titans went ahead 17-6 with 13 minutes left in half. And this wasn’t just another touchdown for Locker, this was a career long TD pass for him, and the 2nd longest catch of Cook’s career. By the end of the first half, Locker has eclipsed his longest pass and longest rush of his NFL career.
4) It went almost unnoticed but head coach Mike Munchak is 1-for-2 on challenges this season. In the first quarter the Titans won a challenge, a ruling that reversed a Lions completion to an incomplete pass. It was a nice play by Jordan Babineaux and it helped shift the momentum in the direction of the Titans.
5) The semi-return of running back Chris Johnson helped too. Johnson had 12 yards on four carries for the Titans at the half. He ended the game with 12 carries with 40 yards rushing and 5 yards receiving. Not the regular numbers he’s used to putting up, but those are more than he has totaled all season.
6) Out of a shotgun play Locker connected again to tight end Craig Stevens for a 17 yard gain with 5:24 left in the third quarter. This reception tied a career high for Stevens. And yet again gave some momentum back to the Titans when they really needed it.
7) To start the fourth, the Titans were up 20-16. Tennessee entered this game third-to-last in rushing defense. They gave up 61 rush yards by half way through the second quarter. They started to lose momentum when they were able to dodge a bullet as the defense was able to keep Detroit out of the end zone but still close enough for a field goal. Hanson field goal made it 20-19, the Titans still maintained the lead.
8) Jake Locker showed everyone at the end of the game that he is able to play with the big boys. With everything accomplished, and all the ups and downs, Locker sealed the deal with a 71 yard pass to wide receiver Nate Washington (another career long record) to win the game 34-27 after the extra point.
9) As if the touchdown pass wasn’t enough, Titans’ Alterraun Verner picked up a fumble to return the ball for a 72 yard touchdown. The Titans touchdown drives included 71 yards, 61, 65, 105 and 72, that’s an average of 75 yards per drive.
You would think with a two touchdown lead at the two minute warning of the second half, that you have the win no problem. Well there is no such thing as a sure thing.
After a crazy comeback in the last two minutes including a touchdown pass by Shaun Hill, fortunately a field goal made by Bironas in overtime was enough to hold the Lions despite a threatening drive and the Titans win this exciting one 44-41.
Who are these guys and where did they come from? This was one of the craziest games of the season by far in the NFL.