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Six Things That Stood Out

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Six Things That Stood Out for the Titans in Saturday Night's Win Over the Vikings


MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The Titans beat the Vikings 24-16 here at U.S. Bank Stadium on Saturday night.

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

Tyjae's Hurdle

And you thought Derrick Henry was the only Titans running back capable of producing highlight-reel runs. Rookie Tyjae Spears has already changed that thought process. After an impressive debut in Chicago, Spears made the play of the night against the Vikings with an electrifying touchdown run. The dynamic back busted past the line of scrimmage, and then hurdled Vikings safety Lewis Cine on his way into the end zone on his 33-yard touchdown run. Center Aaron Brewer lifted the flexing Spears into the air in celebration. The Titans have played two preseason games, and Spears is off to a nice start – he ran for 57 yards on just seven carries on Saturday night. "Shout-out to the o-line," Spears said. "They opened it up for me – I couldn't have done it on my own." Spears when asked about the hurdle: "I think it was more of a reaction. I don't think it was planned, because my dad always tells me: Don't come off the ground."

Malik Willis

Quarterback Malik Willis wasn't perfect, but he made enough plays for the Titans to win. Willis completed 10-of-17 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown in the game, and he also ran for 91 yards on 11 carries. Willis completed a third-down pass for a first down to help the team run out the clock, and his 26-yard scramble for a first down was also important. Willis also threw an interception in the game, and he missed on some throws. His targets were also guilty of some drops. But with starter Ryan Tannehill getting the night off and Will Levis unavailable, the Titans needed Willis to win the game, and he delivered. "We won," Willis said, "so that's a plus."

Julius Chestnut, Too

Tyjae Spears wasn't the only running back not named Derrick Henry to shine on Saturday night. Second-year running back Julius Chestnut also had a night, with some bruising carries, a breakaway run, and even a touchdown catch. Chestnut led the Titans with 98 rushing yards on 13 carries, including a five-yard touchdown run. Chestnut's biggest run of the day was a 55-yard sprint down the sideline, which put the Titans in the red zone. Chestnut scored two touchdowns in the game – he caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Willis in the fourth quarter. "Watching Tyjae running, hurdling a guy, and scoring, that was obviously a beautiful sight," Chestnut said with a smile. "We kept rolling after that, everybody. Everybody was getting into it."

First Team O-line

Just like last week, the Titans employed their starting offensive line – LT Andre Dilliard, LG Peter Skoronski, C Aaron Brewer, RG Daniel Brunskill, RT Chris Hubbard – at the start of this one. The Titans went three-and-out on their first two series, as running room was tough to come by, and a drop hurt. The unit, which paved the way for a touchdown drive on their first series in Chicago, gave Spears more room to run on the third drive, and the Titans drove 70 yards on nine plays to take the early lead. The back-ups helped pave the way for 281 rushing yards on the night, and Willis was sacked just twice. "(You build chemistry) when you play together, really," Dillard said. "You can see it, and it feels pretty good."


Titans rookie Caleb Murphy finished the game with two sacks, and he now has three in two preseason game. Fellow edge rusher Rashad Weaver also had a sack in the contest on a night when the defense stiffened up in the red zone and forced three field goals. Playing primarily with back-ups, the Titans held the Vikings to just 15 first downs and 262 yards of offense. The defense also got off the field on third down, holding the Vikings to just 3-of-13 (23.1 percent). "I pride myself in doing what I do – I am here for a reason," Murphy said. "But there's a lot of work to still be done, a lot of things to clean up. But I am very proud of myself – two sacks is big, and we got the win, that's the most important thing."


The Titans need to clean some things up after this one. The team turned the ball over twice – once on the Willis INT, another time when the ball hit a member of the receiving team (Tre Avery) on a punt. Justin Murray was called for a hold, which wiped off a first down, and Sam Okuayinonu was called for roughing the passer, which led to a first down. Tyreque Jones was flagged for a DPI in the end zone, and I counted several drops – tight end Chig Okonkwo let two catchable balls escape his grasp before a 19-yard grab. The Titans got better on Saturday night, but they're still a work in progress.

The Tennessee Titans take on the Minnesota Vikings in Preseason Week 2 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

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