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Six Things That Stood Out

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Six Things That Stood Out for the Titans in Monday Night's Wild Win Over the Dolphins


MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – The Titans rallied to beat the Miami Dolphins 28-27 on Monday night at Hard Rock Stadium.

Here's a look at six things that stood out from the contest:

Resilient Titans

I've covered the Titans since 1999, and this was one of the craziest endings I've ever witnessed. With about five minutes left in the contest, I started making my way from the press box to the post-game interview room in an effort to bang out my game story, and to be in position for Mike Vrabel's post-game presser. It was 27-13 at the time, and I was in the process of writing a gamer that focused on a gut-wrenching Titans loss. When the Titans scored quickly, however, I thought, well, maybe these Titans might still have a chance? So, I headed onto the field, and worked with my laptop sitting on a trash can as nervous Titans and Dolphins fans hovered over my shoulder. Less than a minute later, the Titans scored again, and took the lead. Then, the team got a stop to win it. Comeback capped, improbable win realized. I looked at the faces of Titans and Dolphins fans, and they both seemed shocked. Heck, I was shocked myself. A Titans team that entered the contest as 13-point underdogs, with most national observers not giving them much of a chance, somehow found a way to win. The celebration coming off the field was fun to see, and the music blaring from the locker room could be heard loud and clear during Mike Vrabel's presser on the other side of the wall. "At the end of the day," Titans running back Derrick Henry said, "we showed resiliency, and fight. We were able to fight back and get the win."

Going for Two

What made the comeback possible was Vrabel's decision to go for two after the team's touchdown cut Miami's lead from 27-13 to 27-19 with 2:40 . And, when quarterback Will Levis connected with receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine with 2:40, suddenly it was 27-21, and the Titans had a real chance. A three-and-out by the defense gave the Titans the ball back, then they moved it 64 yards in four plays to score on Henry's three-yard touchdown run. Nick Folk's extra point made it 28-27. If not for the two-point call, the Titans and Dolphins could have ended up in overtime. Props to Vrabel for the gutsy call, which was influenced by analytics, he said. "The research that we've done, and the analytics that give you the best chance to win in regulation," Vrabel said, "is you go for two there. I like the call, and that's how it goes."

Gutsy Levis

Levis is growing up right before our very eyes. And, everyone who thought his four-touchdown NFL debut vs the Falcons was impressive, this might've been his crowning moment during his rookie season. Yes, Levis made mistakes – he threw a pick-6, and his errant pitch to Henry led to a late Miami touchdown. But Levis showed poise while rallying the Titans late, guiding two late scoring drives to cap off the improbable win. For Levis, it was his first 300-yard passing game (327), and it was also his first NFL comeback win. "This is a big confidence-booster for us for sure," Levis said. "This is not the record we'd hope to have at this point in the season, not the record we wanted to have. But all we can do is keep pushing. … I'm so glad we were able to (win). I'm excited to watch that HBO (Hard Knocks) episode."

Big Mistakes

The Titans played the game they wanted to at Hard Rock Stadium – they turned it into a physical, bruising affair, and they controlled the game with long, time-consuming drives. But they nearly let it slip away because of a pair of mistakes late. After a muffed punt by Eric Garror, Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert scored on a five-yard touchdown run. Then, an errant pitch by Levis to Derrick Henry was recovered by the Dolphins, and quickly cashed in for another Mostert run, just one minute later. It quickly turned a 13-13 game into a 27-13 contest. But the Titans got off the mat, and still found a way to win. "We did a lot if things that were going to cost us, obviously, the turnovers and the mistakes," Vrabel said. "But we did more positive things late. The defense got some stops, and when the offense needed to come through, they came through. It doesn't have to be that hard. But I'm proud of the character of this football team, competing."

Defense, Defense, Defense

The Dolphins entered Monday's game having scored 30-plus points in seven games, 45-plus points in two games, and a 70-point effort in Week 3. The Titans, however, held the high-flying offense in check. The biggest reason centered in the red zone defense, as Miami went just 2-of-5 scoring touchdowns in the red zone. They had to settle for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns at critical times in the contest. And, when the Titans needed a stop late, they got it. "That was the difference in the football game," Vrabel said, "forcing them to kick field goals."

Hopkins Steps Up

DeAndre Hopkins stepped up big time. The veteran receiver caught seven passes for 124 yards and a touchdown, a three-yarder that cut into Miami's lead late. Hopkins made sideline grabs, and he caught a deep ball, from 45 yards, that set up a field goal at the end of the half. When Levis needed big plays, he looked to Hopkins, and he delivered. "It's football," Hopkins said. "It's a team sport. We know what we have, and we know what we can do. … We just kept playing, kept trusting in ourselves, and we kept fighting."

The Tennessee Titans take on the Miami Dolphins in Week 14 at Hard Rock Stadium.

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