NASHVILLE -- The Titans beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 33-30 on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
Here's a look at six things that stood out from the game as the team begins to turn its attention to next Sunday's game against Minnesota Vikings:
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill has thrown six touchdowns vs zero interceptions in the first two weeks of the season while completing 70 percent of his passes. In the process, he's proving once again he can win games when the opposition slows running back Derrick Henry down. Something else Tannehill continues to show: His toughness. I got a kick out of hearing guard Rodger Saffold's story about how Tannehill reacted after taking a big hit just as he delivered the 18-yard touchdown toss to receiver Adam Humphries. "He's probably going to get mad that I said this," Saffold said of Tannehill, "but he got up and he said 'And One.' I mean, that's what you want to hear out of your quarterback. You want to hear that competitive nature coming from him."
Stephen Gostkowski is the first kicker since Adam Vinatieri (1999 with Patriots) to kick a game-winning field goal in the final two minutes of regulation in each of his team's first two games of a season. Gostkowski, of course, overcame a nightmarish night to kick the game-winner in the opener at Denver. On Sunday, Gostkowski produced two pressure-packed kicks – the game-winner from 49 yards out with 1:36 left, and a 51-yarder at the halftime horn. Gostkowski wasn't perfect – he misfired on an extra point. But with his clutch kicks, perhaps he at least quieted those fans that suggested the team leave him in Denver.
The Titans weren't exactly air-tight on defense against the Jaguars. Sure, some guys made plays, the biggest one being linebacker Harold Landry's interception late, after defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons tipped a pass from Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew. But the Jaguars racked up 30 first downs and 480 yards of offense against the Titans while converting 10-of-14 (71 percent) third down conversions. The struggle to stop the Jaguars was real. The Titans were banged up in the secondary, of course – Adoree' Jackson missed his second straight game, and corner Johnathan Joseph was out for most the second half. But the Titans also lacked a consistent pass rush, and the team missed too many tackles and assignments. Some things need to get cleaned up on defense.
Tians running back Derrick Henry didn't have a banner day, but he was still productive, and he still contributed to the win while rushing for 84 yards on 25 carries. In doing so, Henry became the fifth player in franchise history to reach the 4,000-yard career rushing mark. Henry now has 4,033 career rushing yards, and he joined a group that includes Eddie George (10,009), Earl Campbell (8,574), Chris Johnson (7,965) and Lorenzo White (4,079). Also, Henry became the second player in franchise history to record 11 consecutive regular season games with at least 80 scrimmage yards, joining Johnson (12 from 2009 to 2010) as the only Titans/Oilers to do so. The only active NFL streak better than Henry's is owned by Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, who has a 12-game stretch of 80-yard scrimmage games after Week 2.
Kenny Vaccaro's Big Day
One player on defense who rose to the occasion throughout was safety Kenny Vaccaro, who made plays vs. the run, and in coverage. Vaccaro was credited with a team-high 11 tackles on the day. He also had a sack, two tackles for a loss and two passes defensed. Sure, there were a few plays Vaccaro would like to have back in the contest, but I thought he showed up big for the Titans on Sunday.
The Tight Ends
With receiver A.J. Brown sidelined, and receiver Corey Davis battling through a nagging hamstring injury, the Titans needed help elsewhere on offense against the Jaguars. Titans tight end Jonnu Smith proved up for it, and he led the team with 84 receiving yards and two touchdown catches. Smith now has three touchdowns in the first two games. But let's not forget about tight end Anthony Firkser's effort either. Firkser had four catches for 45 yards, including a big 16-yarder to set up Gostkowski's field goal before halftime. Over the first two weeks of the season, tight ends have four touchdown catches (MyCole Pruitt had a Week One touchdown).
The Tennessee Titans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donald Page)