NASHVILLE – The Titans beat the Los Angeles Chargers 23-20 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 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tannehill's Starting Debut
I understood the disappointment some fans felt when the Titans opted to sit Marcus Mariota in favor of Ryan Tannehill. In the days that followed the announcement last week, however, I couldn't understand why some Titans fans said they were done with the team because of it. No matter where you stand on the change at QB, there's no denying the fact Tannehill was superb in his starting debut. He threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns, completed 79.3 percent of his passes, and he looked in control. It's probably not going to be as pretty every Sunday, but Tannehill clearly gave the Titans the immediate spark they were looking on offense in in making the switch.
The Big Rookie
When the Titans drafted big defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, he drew comparisons to former Titans All-Pro Albert Haynesworth. Well, Haynesworth was at Nissan Stadium on Sunday, and he saw Simmons post a strong first game. Simmons had four tackles, including two for a loss, along with a quarterback sack in his Titans debut. He was a disruptive force while getting his feet wet in the NFL, and it's exciting to think of how good he can be. And did you see him on the final play? Oh my. 👇
Titans rookie A.J. Brown said it – and I admit, I thought it, too. When the Chargers reached the one-yard line, a part of me thought it might be best if they scored in a hurry so the Titans would have a chance to get the ball back and have a shot. Obviously, no one on the defense thought that way. The grit showed by the Titans defenders was on full display as they defended every blade of grass on the goal-line. Wesley Woodyard's strip of Chargers running back Melvin Gordon and Jurrell Casey's recovery was the highlight of a stand that might've saved the season.
Corey Davis made plays, catching six passes for 80 yards and a score. A.J. Brown once again stepped up, with six grabs for 64 yards. But they weren't alone. Receivers Adam Humphries (4-40) and Tajae Sharpe (2-19, 1 TD) also made big catches when the team needed them. During some of the team's offensive struggles in recent weeks, some wondered why the receiving corps had been quiet. On Sunday, they proved all they needed was opportunities.
Offensive Line Stepped Up
Jack Conklin went down. In stepped Dennis Kelly at right tackle. Nate Davis went down. In stepped Jamil Douglas. On Sunday, the Titans offensive line did a nice job protecting Tannehill, as he was sacked just twice. The group also paved the way for running back Derrick Henry to rack up 90 yards and a score. Not everything was great – Chargers rusher Joey Bosa was in the backfield on numerous occasions, and there were penalties. But for the most part, the Titans offensive line played winning football.
Following back-to-back losses to the Bills and Broncos, I fielded plenty of inquiries questioning the perceived lack of enthusiasm, and fire. My take: It's hard to get worked up with you get shut out (like 16-0 at Denver), or in games when you manage just seven points (in losses to the Jaguars and Bills). Well, we saw some fire and enthusiasm on Sunday, and it was there because the Titans made plays on both sides of the football. Winning on Sunday was huge, and the team's fire was on display throughout. It was also cool to see the enthusiasm from the fan base at Nissan Stadium. It's been a rough few weeks, and the ones who showed up and got loud on Sunday were rewarded. Several Titans said after the game they appreciated - and needed - the support while giving a tip of the helmet.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 7 of the 2019 season at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donald Page)