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Scramble Plays Generate Scores

Posted Oct 6, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s first touchdown against Kansas City on Sunday resulted from Ryan Fitzpatrick’s improvisation and Chris Johnson’s acceleration.

Ryan Fitzpatrick dives across the goal line for a 9-yard touchdown run. Click here for the slideshow from the Titans-Chiefs game.

After being shutout in the first half, the Titans were able to mount a five-play, 82-yard drive in the opening 2:51 of the second half.

Johnson had a short gain to start the possession, and Fitzpatrick followed with a 26-yard scramble. The Chiefs stopped Johnson for a loss of four on the next play. Fitzpatrick got some of the yardage back with a 7-yard completion to Delanie Walker and followed by buying time on third-and-7 before edging up in the pocket and flipping to Johnson as defenders converged on the quarterback, who made his first start as a Titan in place of injured QB Jake Locker.

Johnson initially made a block on the play and then got up and made eye contact with Fitzpatrick.

“It was kind of crazy because on that play, our running backs coach (Sylvester Croom) has been telling us all week about cutting the defensive end and getting on the ground,” Johnson said. “On that particular play, I stuttered and tried to cut him and I felt like the ball still hadn’t been thrown yet.”

Johnson got the ball at midfield and sprinted between the right hash marks and numbers for 30 yards before cutting across the field to pick up blocks by Kendall Wright and Nate Washington that sprung Johnson for his first touchdown of the season.

“When I first got the ball and turned around I was actually going to go to the right side, but then the safety ran out, so I came back across the field,” Johnson said. “I looked to my left and made eye contact with Kendall, and he got up on the block. Then Nate (Washington) ended up getting the final block. That’s something we were working on all through camp; when our teammate catches the ball or runs the ball, get downfield and get a block.” 

Johnson’s 49-yard catch and run was the longest offensive play of the day for either team.

“That’s just on the fly,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m kind of running around and saw CJ getting up off the ground and threw it to him and you know, obviously, his specialty is when he gets in space so he made a nice little run.”

The play helped the Titans score 17 straight points, but Tennessee fell 26-17 to Kansas City and struggled to create running room for Johnson the rest of the day. He finished with 17 net rushing yards on 10 carries.

Fitzpatrick led Tennessee in rushing with 50 yards on six scrambles (five carries for 51 yards came in the second half to make up for one for a loss of one in the first). He said he tried to continue making plays by moving around the pocket and using his legs.

“Once I did it once or twice, by the way that they were playing defense and mashing our guys and running around, I did after doing it make a, I think, conscious effort to get out a little bit more and make some plays,” Fitzpatrick said. “That was one of the highlights, I guess. The thing that got us going was kind of getting out of the pocket a little bit and gave us a little bit of momentum there. We just couldn’t keep it.”

Fitzpatrick scored Tennessee’s final touchdown on a 9-yard run that gave the Titans a 17-13 lead with 14:52 remaining in the game. Jackie Battle, who had 38 yards on six carries (including a long of 37), said Fitzpatrick did a good job of mimicking Locker’s mobility.

“I think he did a good job,” Battle said. “He stepped in just like Jake and made some plays with his legs, which I didn’t think that he was the type of guy that could make plays with his legs, but he made some huge third downs for us with his legs.”

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