INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The Titans beat the Rams 28-16 on Sunday night at SoFi Stadium.
Here's a look at six things that stood out from the contest.
A Dominant Jeffery Simmons
It was a beastly performance by the big man, from the very start. How about this for a night?: Simmons sacked Rams quarterback Matt Stafford three times, totaling 26 yards in lost yardage. Simmons was credited with four quarterback hits, and one of them came when he had Stafford in his grasp, forcing him to throw the ball away – that pass was intercepted by teammate David Long Jr, which led to a score. Simmons batted down balls at the line of scrimmage, and he was a disruptive force throughout. He was awarded a Sunday Night Football game ball. "It feels great, man," Simmons said after the game. "Not just me, but (all) the guys. We played a complete game on defense. Everybody was playing together, and having fun." And let's not forget about DL Denico Autry in here either, because he was a force himself, with 1.5 sacks, three QB hits and two deflected footballs at the line of scrimmage.
Kevin Byard is Balling
Titans safety Kevin Byard continues to make big plays for the Titans. On Sunday night, Byard did it again. In the second quarter, Byard picked off Stafford and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown to give the Titans a 14-3 lead. "Play recognition to be honest," Byard explained. "I really wasn't supposed to be over there, but pre-snap communication, me and Jackrabbit (Jenkins), kind of anticipating. As soon as I saw the quarterback, his shoulder was open, I just took off and picked the ball off." Byard now has five interceptions in nine games this season, and a pair of defensive touchdowns.
The Titans made several big several key plays on defense, registering a team-high five sacks on the night. But I thought the biggest defensive sequence of the night came midway through the fourth quarter. After the Titans built a 21-3 lead, the Rams were chipping away. A field goal made it 21-6, another 21-9. The Rams were driving again, looking to cut it to a one score lead, when Titans safety Amani Hooker made a great tackle on Rams running back Darrell Henderson to keep him short of a first down on a third down play. On the next play, Titans edge rusher Bud Dupree pressured Stafford into throwing it away on a fourth-and-one, and the Titans got a big stop. On the team's next offensive series, the Titans put it away with a touchdown-scoring drive. "It was absolutely critical," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. "Amani worked his way through the trash, and they probably tried to pick him off. He made a fantastic tackle. And for Bud to factor on that play, it was huge."
Adrian Peterson's Debut
Call him what you want -- A.P. or A.D. But following the injury to Titans running back Derrick Henry, veteran Adrian Peterson is now a Tennessee Titan. Peterson scored a touchdown in his Tennessee debut, a 1-yard touchdown run that clinched the win. On the night, Peterson carried the ball 10 times for 21 yards as fellow running backs D'Onte Foreman (5-29) and Jeremy McNichols 7-24) also contributed. No, it's not what Titans fans have been used to on the ground with Henry, but it was a start. Titans guard Rodger Saffold said the blocking needed to be better for the backs. "I felt like it was OK," Peterson said of his debut. "I feel like we left a lot out there as a running back group, I know I did as well. But as we continue to practice and gets reps in, we will continue to build that chemistry up front."
Titans receiver A.J. Brown is a mild-mannered player who usually has a smile on his face. After Sunday's game, Brown was upset with himself after dropping a pair of passes. Brown finished he game with five catches for 42 yards, including a big catch late. "I definitely left some plays out there," Brown said. "Some of the plays I didn't make today." Brown was also clearly frustrated with his encounters with Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who was flagged for two post-play penalties while matched up with Brown. Brown and Ramsey got offsetting penalties following one play. "I don't mind the chirping," Brown said. "But little things after the play, little dirty stuff, I am not going for it. I am a man first. I am here to play football; I am not out here trying to fight nobody. But I'm not taking no s**t, though. … You saw the game, I am not going to get into all of that. We got the dub and I am not going to make it about me and him. He knows me, he has my number if he wants to see me… That ain't no threat – I'm just saying, he knows me so if he wants to talk to me, he's got my number."
The Titans just keep on keeping on. On Sunday night, the Titans showed up ready to play following the loss of Henry. Two of the team's starting offensive linemen didn't play. No one predicted the Titans to win this game, but they won for the fifth time in a row to improve to 7-2 on the season. According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Titans are the 4th team in the last 15 seasons to win four straight games, all vs playoff teams from the previous season. The previous three (2009 Saints, 2010 Packers, and 2011 Patriots) all made the Super Bowl. "We're a resilient group," Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. "We believe in each other, and we're going to fight and we're going to try and find a way to win. Hat's off to the defense, and we found a way to win. I'm proud of the way our guys came out and battled."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Los Angeles Rams in Week 9 at SoFi Stadium.