SEATTLE – The Titans rallied for an improbable, 33-30 overtime win over the Seahawks on Sunday.
Here's a look at six things that stood out:
The Titans looked like they were done on Sunday. Not once, but a couple of times. Down 24-9 in the third quarter, and 30-16 in the fourth, it appeared the Titans were on their way to an 0-2 start. But as ESPN's Lee Corso likes to say, 'Not so fast, my friend.' Touchdown drives of 68, 75 and 80 yards in the second half gave the Titans a second life in overtime, and once there, they closed the deal. It was a gut-check win, and the hope is it's also a momentum-builder moving forward. "I was proud of our guys, we battled," Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. "There's a lot to get better, but as far as coming together as a unit, making plays, trusting each other and playing to our identity, I feel like it was a good step in the right direction."
Oh yeah, this was peak Derrick Henry once again. The NFL's leading rusher in 2020 turned it another big-time performance, carrying the ball 35 times for 182 yards and three touchdowns. Henry reminded me of Titans great Chris Johnson on a nine-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, when he cut back across the field to find paydirt. He reminded me of Derrick Henry on his 60-yard bolt to the end zone, and with his battering ram approach throughout the game. Henry put the team on his back when the game was on the line, and he was plenty sturdy. His success is a big reason why the Titans won the time of possession battle 42:33 to 22:42, and the game. "I don't think anyone expected us to come here and get a W," Henry said. "I knew if we stuck together, trust in what we preach and what coach preaches, play the way we practice, it would eventually come together for us."
Hello, Julio + A.J.'s Off Day
Yes, this was the Julio Jones Titans fans expected to see. A seven-time Pro Bowler, Jones came up big for the Titans on Sunday after a less-than-stellar debut in Week One. Jones caught six passes for 128 yards, including a 51-yard catch on a deep ball down the middle of the field. Jones looked smooth as he ran under that one, and he looked tough when he snagged other catches out of the air. Jones also looked like he got both feet inbounds on what was initially ruled a touchdown, but that call was later reversed. "I always come out here and try to do every play the best way I can possibly do it," Jones said. "That starts in practice so that when I get to the game, I'm ready to go. I'm just out there having fun." As for Brown, it was a struggle, as he let a number of balls go off his hands and caught just three balls for 43 yards on nine targets. "Someone from my family told me I wouldn't have caught COVID today if I'd tried," Brown said on social media after the contest. The bet here is he bounces back next week.
Mike Vrabel couldn't help but crack a joke when the team's kicking situation came up during the week, suggesting the Titans have had 53 different kickers during his tenure as head coach. It hasn't been that many, of course, even if it's seemed like it at times. Enter veteran Randy Bullock, who was signed by the team this week. Bullock trotted on the field in overtime with a chance to win it, and he delivered. Bullock made four of his five kicks against the Seahawks, including the 36-yarder in overtime. He was awarded a game ball after the contest. "It's been a crazy week, just to get here and get acclimated," Bullock said with a smile. "To be able to cap it off like that and have the locker room go wild and crazy after last weekend has been a lot of fun."
Good and Bad on Defense
There were blown coverages, a few in fact. The Titans gave up a 63-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett, and later a 68-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Freddie Swain. From the press box during the game, I joked that I was the closest defender on the long ball to Swain. Maybe some folks can find the humor in that after a win, probably not those responsible. The reality the Titans need to get this fixed. But it wasn't all bad for the Titans on defense. In fact, the team made some big plays to put themselves in a position to win it late, and it held Seattle to just 4-of-12 on third down. Linebacker Ola Adeniyi had a huge sack in overtime to force a punt on a day when defensive lineman Denico Autry had 1 ½ sacks, and defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons added a ½ sack of his own. Cornerback Kristian Fulton was scrappy once again and other defenders made plays. The Titans are going to need to play better, but there's no denying they played winning football when it mattered most.
The sight of Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan limping off the field in warm-ups was the last thing anyone wanted to see. Yet here was Lewan, who initially looked good working on his own a few hours before kickoff, hobbling to the locker room with the team's head trainer after suffering a setback. Lewan watched the game in sweatpants, as Ty Sambrailo stepped in to replace him. Then, in-game, guard Rodger Saffold left on two different occasions because of an injury, and was replaced by back-up Aaron Brewer. The Titans did enough to win up front, as the group paved the way for Henry's rushing performance, along with 532 total yards and 33 first downs, on a day when Tannehill was still hit too many times. Some things still need to get cleaned up here, but first, we'll have to wait to find out what's going on with Lewan. "We'll see what the situation is," Vrabel said of Lewan. "My concern is about getting home safe and treating the guys that need to be treated and Taylor will obviously be a part of that since he wasn't able to play in the football game."