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Another Look at Titans Offensive TDs

Posted Sep 29, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For the second time in as many weeks, the Titans showed why they kept six receivers on their 53-man roster and illustrated the depth that’s been built at the position group.

Nate Washington keeps focus on the football during career-long 77-yard TD catch. Slideshow.

Even though the Titans were without Kenny Britt (deactivated because of a rib injury), the passing game accounted for four of Tennessee’s five touchdowns in a 38-13 win over the New York Jets Sunday at LP Field.  

Kendall Wright and Damian Williams each had five receptions for more than 50 yards, Nate Washington had four catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns, and rookie Justin Hunter recorded his second straight TD catch in as many weeks and as many pro receptions.

The Jets committed to stopping the run and held the Titans to 78 net rushing yards on 31 attempts (including two kneel-downs for minus-2 yards to end the game), but Tennessee had 257 passing yards, which was 67 more than New York was allowing opponents.

More important was the fact that the offense capitalized with three touchdown drives after three turnovers in the first half. Here’s another look at the touchdowns by Tennessee’s offense.  

After Alterraun Verner’s early interception return gave Tennessee the ball at the New York 18-yard line, the Titans ran four straight times before Jake Locker used a play-action pass to open a big window to find tight end Delanie Walker after Jets defenders crashed to stop the run.

The free agent acquisition was so open that Locker was able to guide the ball to him before Jets defenders could recover. Walker said time seemed to drag as he waited on the ball, but he secured it for a 7-0 lead with 11:57 left in the first quarter.  

“Truthfully, it was supposed to be in the corner of the end zone and he threw it to me and floated it,” Walker said. “I was just looking like ‘Here they come,’ and I knew I had to make sure I took care of it. It is a little nervous when you float the ball.”

Locker used precision and more velocity on his next touchdown pass, a 4-yard strike to Washington to convert a third-and-goal. As Locker dropped back, the Jets rushed three defenders and dropped eight, including rookie defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson into zone coverage. Washington took his route to the outside then worked back toward the middle of the field. Locker spotted that Washington was most open of options and hit him in stride near the goal-line. Washington crossed into the end zone as Richardson tried swiping at him.

The drive followed a fumble by Jets rookie QB Geno Smith that was forced by Zach Brown and recovered by Verner and gave Tennessee a 17-3 lead with 6:46 left in the second quarter.

Verner’s second interception of Smith gave the Titans the ball at the New York 46 with 1:28 left in the first half. Tennessee had the luxury of all three of its timeouts, unlike the week before when Locker led a winning 94-yard drive with no timeouts.

Locker converted a third-and-1 with a 5-yard scramble and ran out of bounds at the 32-yard line to stop the clock with 52 seconds left. Locker then connected with Williams on three straight passes for 3, 6 and 7. The last catch in that sequence was reviewed by officials, and replays confirmed that Williams skillfully put his arms under the sinking throw to convert third-and-1.

Titans coach Mike Munchak decided not to use his third timeout, and officials resumed the running of the clock with 14 seconds. The ball was snapped with seven seconds left, but Locker calmly threw a jump ball to Hunter, the rookie who had the 34-yard winner against the Chargers last week. Hunter artfully timed his jump against Darrin Walls. He was almost parallel to the playing surface and the ball was almost perpendicular to it, but Hunter held on despite contact from Walls with two seconds to spare.

“We were about to run that play, and then he changed it up at the last second and threw another jump ball. I guess that’s what they called me in for when we’re seeing off coverage like last week, and Jake just gave me a chance,” Hunter said. “I’ve got to keep my eyes on it, just like Coach (Shawn Jefferson) preaches. If I would have dropped it, he would have gotten on me, so I wouldn’t want that to happen. I had it the whole time. The way I had to bring it in was just awkward, so I had to make sure I had it.”

The catch gave Tennessee a commanding 24-6 halftime lead.

The celebration turned solemn early in the third quarter, however, when Locker suffered an injury to his right hip that required him being carted off the field and taken to Saint Thomas Midtown. Teammates shared words of encouragement with Locker before he left the field and said they were hoping and praying the injury wasn’t serious.

Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced Locker with 11:14 left in the third quarter and found Wright streaking across the middle of the field for a gain of 25 yards on his first pass attempt, but that drive stalled, and the Titans shifted to a work-the clock and avoid turnovers approach on offense while the defense added a TD on a sack fumble and recovery by Karl Klug and special teams won the field position battle.

New York pulled within 31-13 with 8:49 remaining, but the Titans scored three plays later when Fitzpatrick heaved a deep pass down the middle of the field to Washington, who was working against Antonio Cromartie. What appeared to be single-coverage, turned out to be double-coverage when back judge Billy Smith was unable to avoid contact with the players.

“That was sweet. We did the old ‘use the pick by the back judge’ there. We drew it up in practice,” Fitzpatrick joked. “It was a single-high defense. The safety’s really cheating down the last few series that we had and it was just a post route by (Washington) on Cromartie. I threw it up to give him a chance and he made a great play.”

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