NASHVILLE -- The Titans rallied to beat the Houston Texans 42-36 in overtime 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 Sunday's game against Pittsburgh Steelers:
With apologies to Vince Young and Kerry Collins and Matt Hasselbeck and Marcus Mariota and every other Titans quarterback who has suited up in two-tone blue over the years, I have to go back to the late, great Steve McNair to recall a bigger difference-maker than Tannehill. Yes, others had their moments. But Tannehill is putting himself in a different class with his success. Tannehill has helped change the direction of the franchise with a relentless, never-say-die approach at the helm. Tannehill threw for 364 yards with four touchdowns to guide another comeback win on Sunday. His 13 touchdown passes in 2020 are tied for the second-highest total in franchise history through the first five games of a season, behind only George Blanda (14 in 1962). Tannehill guided the Titans to an AFC Championship Game after taking over a year ago, and in his first 15 regular season starts he's thrown 35 touchdown passes vs. just seven interceptions while completing 70 percent of his passes. The Titans are 12-3 in those 15 games. When the game is on the line, Tannehill delivers. In less than a year he's now behind McNair on my "Titans best QBs" list. And, don't @ me on this.
A week after turning Bills cornerback Josh Norman into a meme with a nasty stiff-arm, Henry showed the proper way to social distance while running away from Texans on his 94-yard touchdown run. What about that speed? It was all part of another monster day for Henry, who racked up 212 yards and two touchdowns while recording his third career 200-yard rushing game. Henry, who scored the game-winner on a five-yard run out of the Wildcat formation, now owns three of the top six single-game rushing performances in team history. His 264 scrimmage yards (Henry added 52 receiving yards) ranks fourth in franchise history, and it is the most scrimmage yards by a Titans player in a game since Chris Johnson's 284 during the 2009 season. Henry used his speed to become the fifth NFL player to record two career rushing touchdowns of 90 or more yards, joining Bo Jackson, Ahman Green, Chris Johnson and Lamar Miller. He's tied for the third-most 70-yard (or longer) career rushing touchdowns in NFL history. With five such runs, he tied Barry Sanders (five) and O.J. Simpson (five) and trails only Chris Johnson (seven) and Adrian Peterson (seven). Don't look now but Henry is currently on pace for 1,882 rushing yards this season.
The Titans are lighting up scoreboards on offense, and winning games in the process. But the defense is going to need to show more improvement. Hey, it's not all rainbows and unicorns in here, even at 5-0. Now let's be clear – it's not all bad. Guys have made plays at critical times, and the team has forced turnovers. But the Titans have allowed 30 points or more in three of the team's five wins, and opposing teams continue to have way too much success against the Titans on third down. The Texans converted 7-of-14 vs the Titans on third down, and on the season the Titans are allowing opponents to convert 57.8 percent of the time – that's last in the NFL. The Titans are currently ranked 27th in the NFL in yards allowed. Part of the reason has been because of a pass rush that hasn't been getting home enough. The Titans sacked Deshaun Watson twice on Sunday, but he still threw for 335 yards and four scores because he had too much time. The Titans have just seven sacks in five games this season. The Titans are ranked 15th in the NFL in points allowed, so keep in mind things could be worse.
Jeffery Simmons Is Beastly
Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons is a difference maker. The big man returned to action against the Texans, and he was once again a disruptive force. Simmons registered his second sack of the season on Sunday, and he was also credited with two quarterback pressures. Simmons also batted down Watson's pass on the critical two-point conversion attempt with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, which gave the Titans life. He was also credited with six total tackles, which tied his career high. "There's always room to get better," Simmons said, "but at the same time I came into the season with the mindset that I wanted to be dominate. I wanted to help this team the best way I can. Every time I step on the field, I want to play with passion. I want to bring the energy to this defense and this team. I have a lot of room to get better."
What About Firkser?
The Titans lost tight end Jonnu Smith early in this one, and fellow tight end Anthony Firkser picked up the slack and then some. Firkser led the Titans with a career-high eight receptions for 113 receiving yards and a touchdown, shattering his previous career highs were four receptions and 52 receiving yards. Firkser was big in the clutch, with two catches for 30 yards during the game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter. Firkser's 113 receiving yards ranks 13th in franchise history among tight ends and were the most by a Titans tight end since Delanie Walker's 124 yards against the Green Bay Packers in 2016. "I am just focused on winning the game, and whatever I can do to help is kind of the job and role I see," Firkser said. "If I end up having to catch the ball, if I end up having to make blocks, I mean, that's the role I have to embrace and I am just excited we got the win."
Red Hot Offense
We've mentioned Tannehill and Henry in here, along with Firkser. We haven't even gotten to receiver A.J. Brown, who had two touchdown catches on Sunday, including a big one that forced overtime with four seconds left. Across the board, the Titans lit it up on offense once again on Sunday while scoring 30-plus point in four straight games, and back-to-back games of 42 points. The Titans totaled a franchise-record 601 net yards of offense against the Texans. They scored 42 points in consecutive weeks for only the third time in franchise history, and for the first time since 1961. The Titans have now scored 42 points or more five times since the beginning of the 2019 campaign, which is the highest total in the NFL. On Sunday, the Titans became the first team in NFL history to have a passer reach 350 yards (364 by Tannehill) and a rusher reach 200 yards (212 by Henry) in a game. But the accolades don't end there. The Titans' 31 first downs vs Houston tied for the team's second-highest total in the franchise's "Titans era" (1999-present) and the most since the Titans had 32 first downs against the Cardinals in 2013. The Titans saw their streak of 10 consecutive red zone possessions resulted in a touchdown come to an end on Sunday, but that's nothing to be ashamed during a game when the Titans scored four touchdowns on six total opportunities inside the 20, which brings their season totals to 18 touchdowns in 23 trips (78.3 percent). On the season, the Titans are currently 2nd in the NFL in offense (yards), and second in points per game. Not bad, huh? Not bad indeed.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Houston Texans in Week 6 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donald Page)