NASHVILLE — The Saints came marching in, and the Titans kept marching on.
Make it six in a row for the Tennessee Titans.
On Sunday, the Titans found yet another way to win, this time in a 23-21 victory over the Saints.
"I love winning — I don't care how it comes," Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons said. "(There's) always room to improve, but … I learned since I have been in the league it's hard to win in this league. So, we are going to enjoy this win. We always like tough games. Sometimes it might not be as tough as it was today, but as long we got the dub, so I am satisfied."
With the win, the Titans became just the second team in NFL history to win six straight games against playoff teams from the previous season (2003 Eagles).
The Titans also improved to 8-2, which took place before 69,414 fans at Nissan Stadium. They remain three full games ahead of the Colts (5-5) in the AFC South.
"We've proven that over the course of three and a half years that some days they're going to be really good and you're going to have your fastball and everything's going to be clicking, and some days it's going to be a little tougher sledding," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. "And, certainly, that was the case today. But they know how to win. They do know how to win. I'm thankful for that."
The Titans had to hold on until the end for this one, as they broke up a two-point conversion try by the Saints with just 1:16 left. After recovering the ensuing onside kick, the Titans were celebrating again.
It was the franchise's 200th win since becoming the Titans in 1999, including regular season and postseason contests.
It is the sixth time in franchise history the team has won eight or more of their first 10 games. They previously were 8-2 or better in 1991, 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2008.
"It's awesome to be 8-2," Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan said. "I bring this up a lot, but in 2014 or 2015, we couldn't buy a win. I was just talking to Miss Amy (Adams Strunk) about this being the 200th win for the Tennessee Titans. It's very cool to be part of a huge change and I think everyone has put us in a huge position to be successful, and we're scrappy. This team is very scrappy."
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed 19-of-27 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown in the contest, and he also ran for another.
Receiver Marcus Johnson had five catches for 100 yards in the game.
The Titans continued to generate an impressive pass rush, as the team posted four sacks again, with all of them coming before halftime. Simmons had two first-half sacks, while linebacker Harold Landry and defensive lineman Naquan Jones also added sacks.
The Titans fought to the end.
After taking a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter on a 28-yard field goal by kicker Randy Bullock, which was highlighted by a 50-yard pass from Tannehill to Johnson, the Saints responded with a scoring drive of their own, and capped it off with an 11-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trevor Siemian to Tre'Quan Smith to take a 6-3 lead.
The Titans tied it back up at 6-6 on a 36-yard field goal by Bullock.
The Titans then took the lead 13-6 with 1:38 left in the second quarter on a one-yard touchdown run by Tannehill, which capped an eight-play, 56-yard drive, and that was the score at the half.
A big play on special teams jumpstarted the Titans in the second half.
On the second half kickoff, Titans linebacker Dylan Cole forced a fumble that was recovered by fullback Tory Carter at the Saints 19-yard line.
"If you asked me two weeks ago where I would be at, I thought it would be on my back patio watching this game," Cole said after the game. "I am just fortunate to be here, and when the plays come, I just have to make them."
Five plays later, Tannehill found tight end MyCole Pruitt open for a two-yard touchdown, and the Titans led 20-6 with 12:02 remaining in the third quarter.
A 13-yard touchdown run by Mark Ingram cut Tennessee's lead to 20-12 with 3:54 remaining in the third quarter before another Bullock field goal, this one from 36 yards, made it 23-12 lead with 10:01 left in the contest.
The Titans got a big defensive stand late in the fourth quarter, as they held the Saints to a field goal after they'd reached the one-yard line. The kick made it 23-15 with 5:33 remaining.
Then, after the Saints cut the lead to 23-21 with 1:14 left on a touchdown pass from Siemian to Marquez Calloway, the Titans rose up and stopped the two-point try to seal the win.
"We go into every game expecting a dog fight," Titans safety Kevin Byard said. "We don't go into games thinking we are going to blow guys out. Obviously, the Saints are a really good football team. They've been a really good football team in this league for a while.
"We understood that their defense was going to play pretty well, and we had to match their defense. Just proud that we got a win today, that we just found a way to get a win."
The Titans return to action next Sunday against the Texans at Nissan Stadium.
The Tennessee Titans take on the New Orleans Saints in Week 10 at Nissan Stadium.