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Michael Preston, Justin Hunter TDs Help Titans Finish Falcons

Posted Aug 24, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Michael Preston knew there was a chance Ryan Fitzpatrick would look his way on a deep ball, but was a little skeptical with the result of another play.

Fitzpatrick entered Tennessee’s 27-16 win against Atlanta after one offensive series in the third quarter and immediately went Preston’s direction with his first pass attempt. The result was a 56-yard gain that moved Tennessee from its 41-yard line to the Atlanta 3-yard line where Fitzpatrick connected with rookie Justin Hunter for a TD toss a play later.

Michael Preston reeled in this deep pass for a 56-yard catch that set up Tennessee's second touchdown and scored the Titans' final TD in their 27-16 win. Click here for a slideshow from the game.

“Ryan had come to me earlier and said he might take a shot on it if we got the right look, and we did,” Preston said. “I think the (offensive) line held up great and gave him enough time and he put a pretty ball out there for me.”

Preston said the long gain was a deep post so “you want to stack the defender and run up under the ball when he puts it out there.” He ran past Robert Alford down the Falcons’ sideline and caught the ball in stride. Alford recovered in time to trip Preston before he could reach the goal line.

“You’ve got to focus on the catch first, but I apologized to Ryan and the linemen (for not scoring on the play),” Preston said. “I’ve got to get them off the field next time.”

Preston did that later, scoring the game’s final touchdown and showing versatility in the fourth quarter when he dove for a 6-yard pass from Fitzpatrick and tapped his feet in bounds for a touchdown. Like all scoring plays, it was reviewed but confirmed.

“I’m not going to lie. I was a little skeptical,” Preston said. “I thought I felt it on my cleat but I checked with four or five guys on the sideline before I was relieved with the touchdown. I was happy to make the play, and I want to keep progressing and make more plays like that.”

Titans rookie Justin Hunter celebrates his first NFL TD with Michael Preston.
Click here for a slideshow from the game.

Hunter said he expected to be targeted on his touchdown play but was surprised at the size of the throwing window Fitzpatrick had.

“I was too open,” Hunter said. “It’s a one-sided play so I knew it was coming to me. When I saw the safety commit, my eyes just opened wide. I just can’t wait for the next chance.”

It may have occurred in the preseason, but the second-rounder out of the University of Tennessee said he planned to keep the ball and his gloves as the phone in his pocket sounded off multiple times while he was being interviewed. Hunter said it was great to continue the momentum that the first-team offense and defense created in the first half.   

“They definitely set the tone with me tonight and they definitely made a lot of big plays out there and moved the ball well, and good ups to the defense,” Hunter said. “They stopped them a lot and helped us.”

Nate Washington was part of the effort by the first-team and gave the Titans a lead they didn’t relinquish when he caught a 7-yard pass from Jake Locker on Tennessee’s third possession on a play that was similar to the one caught by Hunter. Washington had four catches for a team-best 70 yards, followed by Preston’s three for 68 and Kenny Britt’s three for 42. Locker finished 11-for-13 passing for 133 yards and a passer rating of 134.9. Washington said he thought the Titans did a good job rallying after a sluggish start.

“I think we did a good job. In years past, that would have been a long game for us with getting off to such a slow start, but I think we did good,” Washington said. “We’ve been working on those types of situations. We came out and it didn’t work out for us the first couple of series, but we were able to bounce back. I think we came back and fought back well, put some good things on tape, made some good plays and got us a win.”

Washington didn’t play in the third quarter like most of Tennessee’s starters because of a foot injury, but he said that it was more of a precautionary measure. Washington, a nine-year NFL veteran who was undrafted out of Tiffin University, said he enjoyed watching the play of Preston, an undrafted player out of Heidelberg University who spent most of last season on the Titans’ practice squad, and Hunter, who entered training camp as more of a lock for a roster spot than Preston.

“I’m proud of (the way Preston is competing for a roster spot),” Washington said. “We came from the same city, college-wise. I went to Tiffin University, but Heidelberg University is in Tiffin (Ohio).

“In order to make it to a stage like this, you have to have been doing something good,” Washington continued. “Mike’s been continuing to get better. I hope the best works out for him here, but it’s a business and he knows that and he’s been doing everything he can to stick around here so I’m proud to see another guy from a small school, especially with it being in the same backyard that I come from to be here.”

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