NASHVILLE – The Titans beat the Ravens 30-24 in overtime on Sunday in Baltimore.
Here's a look at six things that stood out from the game as the team begins to turn its attention to Sunday's game vs the Indianapolis Colts:
Titans running back Derrick Henry is a bruiser, so when he compliments someone on a gut-check run, it means something. Consider Henry among those impressed by Titans receiver A.J. Brown's Herculean-type effort on Sunday, when he refused to be denied on his 14-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. "My exact words were like, 'Huh?', Henry said of Brown. "I couldn't believe it. I was like, 'What in the world?' But that's the type of player he is, being physical." Brown broke a number of tackles on the play, and he carried a Ravens defender into the end zone. Peter King of NBC Sports called it his 'Play of the Day' on Sunday. "My mindset was to get the first down," said Brown, "and I looked up and [realized], 'Oh, I'm about to score.' My teammates did a good job of pushing me in the back to keep me going and keep my momentum going forward." According to Pro Football Focus, Brown forced seven missed tackles vs. the Ravens on Sunday, the most since Odell Beckham Jr. in Week 16 of the 2016 season.
Not to be outdone, Henry took care of business with the game on the line, and it came after he took a pretty big hit himself. Henry ran for 133 yards, and the game-winning touchdown run in overtime, to propel the Titans. In the process, Henry went over the 1,000-yard mark for the third consecutive season, becoming the fourth player in franchise history to accomplish the feat, along with Earl Campbell (1978–1981), Eddie George (1996–2000) and Chris Johnson (2008–2013). Henry leads the NFL with 1,079 rushing yards through 11 weeks – he's 10 yards ahead of Minnesota's Dalvin Cook (1,069). "Derrick is extremely tough," Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. "He is a competitor. He runs hard. He takes a pounding each and every game and continues to keep fighting through it."
Gutsy O-line Work
The Titans lost left tackle Taylor Lewan for the season last month. Leading up to Sunday's game, left guard Rodger Saffold was ruled out, and center Ben Jones was questionable after missing practice all week with a knee injury. The group was challenged even more on Sunday, and it rose to the occasion. Jones gutted it out, Aaron Brewer started at left guard, and David Quessenberry ended up replacing Ty Sambrailo at left tackle after he was injured during the game. Jamil Douglas had to step in at center when Jones left briefly. Still, the Titans managed to run for 173 yards in the game, and Tannehill was sacked just twice. For Jones and the offensive line, it was a gutsy performance. "I knew what it took – I have been banged up before," Jones said. "We just had to go out there and execute. It was a mental week for me, so not being able to see the looks all week and just go out there and perform. We have great coaches who prepared me all week, so give them the credit."
I'm sure Titans fans got kick out of this – Stephen Gostkowski was a perfect 3-of-3 kicking field goals, punter Trevor Daniel hit a nice 52-yard punt when the Titans needed it, and the team executed a beautiful fake punt when quarterback Logan Woodside lined up as the up man and hit Nick Westbrook-Ikhine with pass for a first down. No, the return game wasn't great – Cameron Batson was stopped after minimal gains on three kickoffs. Still, the Titans helped themselves on special teams on Sunday. For Woodside, the completion was the first of his NFL career, even if Tannehill missed it because he was stewing on the sideline. "I was ticked off that we didn't convert on third down," Tannehill admitted. "I went over to the sideline and was getting on the bench about to look at the Surface to see what happened and heard the conversion and that we were back on the field. I'll have to take a look at it on tape, but I'm sure (Logan) will say it's the best throw of the day."
Defense Was Solid
The Ravens had their moments, but the Titans defense rose up in the moments when it mattered most. The Titans defense limited the Ravens to one touchdown in four trips inside the red zone for a season-low 25.0 percent by a Titans opponent in 2020. After the Ravens won the coin toss in overtime, the Titans forced a three-and-out. Titans safeties Kevin Byard and Amani Hooker, who was playing for an injured Kenny Vaccaro, both had break-ups in the end zone. Hooker later had an interception as well. Titans outside linebacker Harold Landry had a sack in Baltimore's overtime possession, and he was a force on all three plays in OT. Inside linebacker Rashaan Evans led the team with nine tackles. "It was me just doing my job," Evans said. "That's the main thing for me, just continuing to do my job. The plays will come to you – every game is not going to be 20-something tackles. The No.1 thing was just to play my role and help the team." The Titans lost inside linebacker Jayon Brown to an elbow injury, and Will Compton finished the contest and tallied six tackles.
Tannehill has put up better numbers during his career, so his 259-yard, two-touchdown performance won't generate many headlines. Tannehill was picked off in the contest, and he was off target on a number of throws. But once again, Tannehill stepped up when the Titans needed him most, engineering two late touchdown drives on a day when he took a number of big hits. In his 20th regular season start with the Titans, Tannehill posted a 104.1 passer rating, which gave him six games in 2020 and 14 games in his 20 starts with the team with a passer rating of at least 100.0. He was credited with his fifth game-winning drive of 2020, and his eighth game-winning drive in his two seasons with the Titans. "Can't say enough about (his toughness)," Titans Coach Mike Vrabel said of Tannehill. "It wasn't perfect, know there were some throws he would like to have back, some blocks that the linemen would like to have back. We want to keep him clean, but he stands in there and delivers the football, doesn't flinch, and I love that he is our quarterback and I get to go to work with him every day."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Baltimore Ravens in Week 10 at M&T Bank Stadium.