NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- On center stage, Titans safety Kevin Byard took the snap, and lobbed a beautiful left-handed pass to Dane Cruikshank for the play of the day in Sunday's win over the Texans.
Byard, lined up short and to the left of snapper Beau Brinkley on the punt team, hit Cruikshank in stride. Cruikshank, lined up uncovered outside as a gunner, caught the ball and raced into the end zone for a touchdown.
Just like the Titans had practiced all week, right?
Well, not exactly.
"Nah," Titans cornerback Adoree' Jackson said with a smile. "It was never that pretty in practice. KB was throwing ducks. I was like, 'Man, you sure you can do this? That doesn't look too good."
Byard's response: "Wait to the game."
And on Sunday, Byard delivered.
In fact, Byard's 66-yard touchdown pass to Cruikshank was the longest touchdown pass by a defensive player in the Super Bowl era, per the NFL. The previous record of 18 yards was held by Los Angeles Rams defensive back Ed Meador (November 19, 1967).
Byard said he rushed the throw in practice, and couldn't get a hold of the laces.
He didn't have that problem on Sunday.
"Everyone was saying during the week: It looks ugly, it looks ugly," Byard said with a smile. "Today, everyone was telling me on the sideline was like "Wow, What a play!
"My passer rating is crazy right now."
Yep, a perfect 158.3.
The play gave the Titans a 7-0 lead in their eventual 20-17 win.
Byard said his last pass was in high school, when he threw a touchdown pass of roughly 50 yards to a receiver on a trick play.
Cruikshank, a rookie, said it was a thrill.
After making a move on a Texans defender in the open field, Cruikshank raced into the end zone and celebrated with a leap into the Nissan Stadium crowd.
"It was a surreal feeling, just crazy," Cruikshank said. "It was such a great atmosphere. I've never really been a part of something like this. To score my first touchdown of my career, it's awesome. I thank God I am in a position to do this for the Titans and my family."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Houston Texans in Week 2 of the 2018 season on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
The Tennessee Titans prepare to take on the Houston Texans in Week 2 of the 2018 season on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)