NASHVILLE, Tenn. –The Titans couldn't overcome a 17-0 first quarter deficit and fell to the Eagles 43-24 Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Eagles rookie receiver Josh Huff returned the game's opening kickoff 107 yards for a touchdown. A Darren Sproles four-yard touchdown run and Cody Parkey's first of five field goals on the day made it 17-0 Philadelphia. That all happened with 3:25 still remaining in the first quarter.
As he did just a week ago, Zach Mettenberger showed he is unflappable in the face of deficits and began to claw Tennessee back in the game.
The Titans comeback began at the end of the first quarter when Brandon Ghee intercepted Mark Sanchez to get Tennessee into Eagles territory. On the first play of the second quarter, Mettenberger hit Justin Hunter on second-and-20 for a 40-yard touchdown to get the Titans on the scoreboard at 17-7.
Down 20-7, Mettenberger led a second touchdown drive of eight plays and 73 yards, capped by a two- yard Shonn Greene touchdown run. 20-14 was as close as the Titans would get, however. The Eagles took a 27-17 lead into halftime and rolled to a comfortable 43-24 win, improving to 8-3 and dropping Tennessee to 2-9 on the season.
The Mett Show**
The score shouldn't discredit Zach Mettenberger's line of 20-for-39 passing for a career-high 345 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Mett's season totals in four starts (minus garbage time against Indianapolis) are up to 1,086 passing yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions for a rating of 91.3. That rating is the best among rookie quarterbacks this season.
Delanie Walker's return to the lineup deserves a good portion of credit for Mettenberger's big numbers. Walker posted a career day himself, catching five passes for 155 yards. That included a 68-yard catch and run in the second quarter when he stiff-armed a defender and showcased his elite speed for a tight end. On another play, Walker caught a pass on the left sideline only to steamroll a defender on his way out of bounds.
Walker said last week that he's used to delivering blows, rather than taking big hits. The Titans tight end was the hammer on Sunday.
Time of Possession – Ten: 26:48 Phi: 33:12
Rushing Yards – Ten: 52 Phi: 164
Third Down Efficiency – Ten: 2-12 (17%) Phi: 10-19 (53%)
Penalties (Yards) – Ten: 7 (56) Phi: 9 (69)
Turnovers – Ten: 3 Phi: 2
• Mettenberger's 345 passing yards marked his first career 300-yard passing game and was a Titans franchise record for a rookie. Previously, Jackie Lee owned the record with 331 yards against the Boston Patriots back in 1960.
• Mettenberger's 345 yards are also the most by a rookie this season. Blake Bortles had the mark with his 336 passing yards against the Titans in Week 6.
• With four receptions for 63 yards, Nate Washington now has more than 6,000 receiving yards for his career (6,059).
• Daimion Stafford and Brandon Ghee both recorded their first career interceptions Sunday, picking off Eagles QB Mark Sanchez.
• Walker had a career day, recording a career-high 155 yards on five catches. His 155 yards are the most by a tight end this season and second most by a tight end in franchise history. Jared Cook owns the record with 169 yards against Jacksonville in 2011.
Review of the Five Things to Watch
1. Protect Mettenberger
Mettenberger was under siege all game, being sacked five times and hit nine total times. That didn't stop the rookie from making the most of the snaps when he was given a clean pocket to throw from. As mentioned above, Mettenberger's 345 yards are the most by a rookie this season. Connor Barwin had two of the Eagles five sacks and now has 12.5 on the season, second most in the league.
- Establish/Maintain a Ground Game**
Trailing 17-0 to begin the game, the Titans never really had a chance to get a running game going. The Titans finished with 52 yards on the ground with Bishop Sankey accounting for 37 yards. Shonn Greene ran for 15 yards on six carries, including his second touchdown of the season.
3. Bring the Heat
The Titans sacked Sanchez twice on Sunday. Jurrell Casey logged his team-leading fifth sack of the season and Derrick Morgan accounted for the other. Tennessee now has 31 sacks on the season (fourth in NFL).
4. Win the Turnover Battle
Stafford and Ghee both intercepted Sanchez, but two second half fumbles and a late interception by Mettenberger put the Titans at -1 for the game.
5. Control the Time of Possession
Going 2-of-12 on third down makes this a hard category to win. The Titans did pick up plenty of chunk plays as Mettenberger completed eight passes of 20-plus yards.