NASHVILLE, Tenn. –** The Titans welcomed back former players on "Homecoming Weekend."
The current Titans showed them a win – a 23-20 victory over the Ravens.
"Those guys set the tone, and set the standard around here," Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo said of the Titans Alumni. "We didn't want to disappoint them, and let them down. We didn't want them flying from all across the country to watch us take an L. We wanted to out there and represent with the Titans blue and get the job done."
The Titans did just that on Sunday.
And with the win, they reached the halfway point of the season in a pretty good spot.
The Titans improved to 5-3 with the win, and remain tied with the Jaguars atop the AFC South. The 5-3 mark is the team's best record at the halfway point since the 2010 season.
The Titans have now won three straight.
"I think this is the best time to start stacking wins, in the middle of the year," said Titans safety Kevin Byard, who had two more interceptions in the contest, and now has five in the past two games. "Some teams have similar records right now, and we want to be that team that pulls out of the pack. It's a tight race in the division, and we want to take off."
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 19-of-28 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns in the contest, along with a passer rating of 100.0.
An 11-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to receiver Eric Decker capped off a nine-play, 75-yard drive to give the Titans some breathing room with 3:58 left, and the team held on.
"You're not going to win games by 20 points every week," Mariota said. "When you can pull these tough ones out, especially against a good team like Baltimore, it builds confidence. It builds momentum. It builds what's going to be needed in December. I thought this was a big win and we're looking forward to next week."
The Titans gutted this one out.
The Titans took a 3-0 lead at the end of their first possession on a 48-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Succop. It capped off a drive that included a 29-yard completion from Mariota to receiver Rishard Matthews on the team's first offensive play, and a 20-yard run by cornerback Adoree Jackson, who lined up in the backfield.
The Ravens tied the game at 3-3 on a 30-yard field goal by kicker Justin Tucker.
Then came a flurry of activity.
Byard intercepted a pass thrown by Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco after it was tipped downfield by teammate Logan Ryan, and he returned it to the Baltimore 46-yard line.
Mariota took off on first down, and after hurdling a Baltimore defender, he had a seven-yard gain. Mariota then connected with receiver Corey Davis a 23-yard completion. Davis toe-tapped the sideline to record the catch.
On the very next play, Mariota connected with Matthews for a 16-yard touchdown to make it 10-3.
Another Tucker field goal, this one from 49 yards, made it 10-6.
The Titans extended the lead to 16-6 on a one-yard touchdown run by Derrick Henry with 2:24 in the second quarter, and led by that score at the half.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Ravens cut the lead to 16-13 midway through the fourth quarter on a three-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to running back Javorius Allen.
But the late touchdown pass from Mariota to Decker gave the Titans the momentum back, and the Titans were able to hold on after a late Baltimore touchdown.
The Titans face the Bengals next Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
"(We) found a way to win, and when we had to make plays we made some plays, and that's what good teams do to win," Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. "Winning (is) the bottom line.
"We wish we had more wins and less losses (at the halfway point). I think we're good for right now at the halfway point. We're just trying to win one at a time, and this was an important win against a good football team that just had a big win, a real big win a week ago. It was important to get this one."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)