Titans Gain More Confidence in 28-26 Win Over Browns

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. —** The Titans found a way to win their second game in a row on Sunday.

In the process, they perhaps also found out a lot more about themselves.

"I'm not so sure in the last couple of years (the team) could win that game,'' Titans coach Mike Mularkey said after the 28-26 win over the Cleveland Browns. "This year, we found a way to win the game.  Obviously we didn't want to make it that close, but we did a lot of good things.

"We're on the right track. We still have things to improve on obviously, but we're on the right track."

Yes, make it two in a row for the Titans.

Sunday's win at Nissan Stadium gave the Titans back-to-back wins for the first time since the end of the 2013 season.

With the win, the Titans improved to 3-3, matching their win total from a year ago.

In the locker room after the contest, players talked about progress and momentum, instead of how they'd let another one slip away. The Titans won just two games in 2014, and just three games a year ago.

Six games into the 2016 season, they're in the conversation in the AFC South. Quarterback Marcus Mariota said after the contest winning the division was the team's goal heading into the year, and nothing has changed.

"You can see how we are still learning, and still trying to create an identity and win ball games in the end,'' Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo said. "We got it done this time. We have some stuff to correct. But overall, great effort. We didn't quit and kept fighting.

"We are digging deep and finding ways to win. … It was definitely unheard of from past Titans teams, but we kept fighting."

Mariota completed 17-of-24 passes for 284 yards and three touchdowns in the contest, with a passer rating of 132.6. Mariota has seven touchdowns in the past two weeks.

Receiver Kendall Wright had eight catches for 133 yards in the contest, with a touchdown.

The Titans racked up six more sacks on Sunday, giving the defense 12 in the past two weeks. Linebackers Brian Orakpo, Derrick Morgan, Wesley Woodyard, Avery Williamson and Sean Spence all had sacks, along with defensive lineman Jurrell Casey.

The last time the Titans posted 6 sacks in back-to-back games was 2010, against Denver and Dallas.

"We are just trying to stay in the right direction here, in order to help this team win,'' Casey said. "We wanted to put as much pressure on them as possible. I wish we could have finished stronger, but the important thing is we won."

The Titans jumped out to a lead in this one, and then had to hold on to win it at the end.

The Titans took a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to receiver Rishard Matthews. It capped a seven-play, 75-yard drive, and it gave the team its first opening possession touchdown of the season.

The Browns cut the deficit to 7-6 with a pair of field goals from kicker Cody Parkey, from 37 and 45 yards, before the Titans answered back with a big play from Wright, who turned in the play of the day early in the second quarter.

After getting behind the Cleveland defense, Wright made a diving catch on a ball from Mariota. Wright quickly got up, and managed to get into the end zone for a 48-yard touchdown catch before Browns defensive back Derrick Kindred could touch him down.

"Just (seeing) the replays at the stadium, he made a hell of a catch,'' Mariota said of Wright. "And that is kind of the expectation for him, to make plays like that. I was glad to see him get in the game a little bit, he had a great game and provided us another option outside."

The Browns cut the lead to 14-13 just before halftime on a seven-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Cody Kessler to receiver Terrelle Pryor.

The Titans stretched the lead to 21-13 on their opening possession of the third quarter when running back DeMarco Murray scored on a three-yard touchdown run, capping a seven-play, 70-yard drive. A 43-yard pass from Mariota to Matthews, who made a diving catch, helped set up the score.

But the Browns didn't quit. Kessler connected with Pryor for a five-yard touchdown with 2:07 left to make it 28-19. After recovering an onside kick, the Browns added another score on a one-yard touchdown run by Duke Johnson with 27 seconds left.

"My job is to make somebody quit every single Sunday,'' Titans tackle Taylor Lewan said, "and those guys didn't quit."

The Titans didn't quit either.

In the end, they made the plays necessary to win the game. They'll face the Colts next Sunday at Nissan Stadium.

Titans tight end Delanie Walker said the team was energized by fans at the game. He said it created a winning atmosphere, and a true home-field advantage. He's glad the team was able to reward them with a win.

"This was probably the best game we had with our Tennessee fans – they did a great job today,'' Walker said. "That's what we need. I was stoked when I heard the crowd going nuts.

"I think the fans see what we see. It's coming. The storm is coming. And today, the fans were the thunder in that storm."

The Tennessee Titans take on the Cleveland Browns in Week 6 action at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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