NASHVILLE – The Titans beat the Bengals 27-3 on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
Here's a look at six things that stood out from the contest:
And this is why Derrick Henry is known as "King Henry." On Sunday, the running back did it all for the Titans – he ran for 122 yards, and he also threw a touchdown pass. During his big day, Henry also eclipsed Oilers great Earl Campbell for second place on the franchise's rushing list. Henry showed off his wheels – and his strength – on his 29-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, breaking three tackles along the way. "To be mentioned with a name I've heard for so long, as a kid," Henry said of Campbell, "it's a surreal moment for me. I'm thankful – God is good – for the people that helped me get here." Later, Henry showed off his arm with a two-yard touchdown pass to tight end Josh Whyle. "Peyton Manning had to show up again," Henry said with a smile. "It's called: 'Go be Peyton Manning and throw a touchdown' and that's what I tried to do."
The play in itself was a beauty – Henry lined up in the backfield, in the Wildcat, and he took the direct snap from center Aaron Brewer. It came on a day when the Titans earlier tried some trickery, but the flea-flicker went just off the hands of DeAndre Hopkins for a would-be touchdown. Henry was worried he might not get a chance to throw the ball after the Bengals called a time out when the Titans first went into the formation. "I was like, Aw, man, they'd done seen something, done sniffed something out, and (coaches would) change the play," Henry said with a smile. But the Titans stuck with the play, and Whyle broke into space in the end zone. "That was a new play this week," Whyle said. "I got a couple of reps at it. Derrick threw a good pass today, and that's all that matters."
Defense, Defense, Defense
Heading into Sunday's game, the Titans considered the Bengals their biggest defensive challenge to date because of the playmaker from Cincinnati. The challenge was accepted, and the Titans stood tall. Quarterback Joe Burrow managed just 165 passing yards on a day when the Bengals managed just 14 first downs, and 211 yards of offense. Burrow was sacked as many times (3) as the Bengals scored points. In fact, the Bengals didn't score after their opening possession. "Honestly, we just locked in," safety Amani Hooker said. "Guys took on the challenge. We had Ja'Marr Chase coming to town. We had Tee Higgins coming in, and Joe Burrow coming to town. So, we knew the work we were going to have on our hands. We took it upon ourselves to go make a play and play good defense."
It takes everybody in games like this, and the Titans got contributions from guys across the roster. I previously mentioned Whyle, who had two catches for 26 yards and the TD. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine also continued to step up (team-high five catches for 51 yards and a touchdown), and Mason Kinsey did a nice job in the return game. Defensively, edge rusher Trevis Gipson stepped in and recorded a sack and a forced fumble. Jack Gibbens led the team with 10 tackles, including a tackle for a loss and a pass defensed. While big-name players also made big plays in this one, the Titans got important plays across the board. "We had some guys playing their first time for us as Titans," Coach Mike Vrabel said. "We talked about those guys making a play. Shy(heim) Carter playing in his first NFL game. (Josh) Whyle continuing to get—gave him some more snaps today and he came through. Caleb Murphy, Colton Dowell. So it's the way it kind of shook out there today. It was good to see them all go out there and contribute."
The Titans didn't score a touchdown in Week One in New Orleans. Same for Week Three against the Cleveland. On Sunday, the Titans went on a scoring binge – scoring three touchdowns in six minutes – during a great stretch in the second quarter. First came a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Tannehill to Westbrook-Ikhine, which capped a beautiful five-play, 78-yard drive. Then came Henry's 29-yard touchdown run, which capped a four-play, 79-yard scoring drive. The Titans finished the first half scoring with the two-yard touchdown pass from Henry to Whyle, which sent Nissan Stadium into a frenzy. In a span of seven offensive plays in the second quarter, the Titans had five plays in which they gained 20-plus yards. "It was a lot of fun," Tannehill said. "We were efficient, and that was opening some plays up down the field for us. … It's a good thing for the Titans when you are able to dial those things up."
Sealing the Win
The Titans dominated the Bengals on Sunday. And, with a 24-3 lead at the half, I liked the team's chances heading into the third quarter. With their opening possession of the second half, the Titans pretty much clinched it with a 15-play, 65-yard drive that used 10 minutes and 22 seconds. In terms of clock used, it was the Titans' longest scoring drive since a field-goal drive that took 11 minutes and 14 seconds at Jacksonville on Oct. 26, 2003. When the Titans took the 27-3 lead on Nick Folk's field goal, the Bengals were pretty much done after that, their time to come back reduced, their spirit killed. "You know, it wasn't the prettiest ten-minute drive," Vrabel said, "but it certainly was very effective."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4 at Nissan Stadium.
The Tennessee Titans arrive at Nissan Stadium for their Week 4 Game against the Cincinnati Bengals.