NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans got touchdowns from Shonn Greene, Bishop Sankey and Jackie Battle in a 20-16 victory over the Green Bay Packers in the preseason opener for both teams Saturday night at LP Field.
Battle’s rushing touchdown from seven yards out gave the Titans their first lead of the game with 5:02 remaining, capping a five-play, 80-yard scoring drive led by rookie QB Zach Mettenberger. Tennessee’s defense held Green Bay on its final possession to give head coach Ken Whisenhunt a victory in his preseason debut for the Titans.
Both teams endured a Nashville monsoon with the relentless downpour lasting nearly the duration of the contest.
Jake Locker and the Titans' starting offense played the entire first quarter, encompassing three-plus drives. The rain ruined any plans of a passing game, leaving Locker just 1-of-2 passing for five yards.
The wet conditions contributed to each team having its fair share of mishandled snaps and drops.
“It’s a lot of water,” said Locker. “Given the circumstances, we were able to move the ball a little running it. We would liked to have done a little better in the passing game, but it’s something that we know we can work on going forward.”
Veteran backup Charlie Whitehust played the second and third quarters, completing 10-of-15 passes for 94 yards, including a five-yard TD pass on a screen to Sankey. Mettenberger, the rookie out of LSU, played out the fourth quarter, completing 4-of-7 passes for 87 yards, including a long of 38 to receiver Brian Robiskie.
The Packers received the opening kick and marched down the field with James Starks capping the drive with a 20-yard touchdown run to take a 7-0 lead.
“Obviously, we would have loved to come out and play great football that first series and get a three-and out,” said linebacker Wesley Woodyard. “We had to go back out there and Titan up and play our defense, play the Titans defense. We didn’t do that on the first drive, the second drive we did.”
A Packers muffed punt late in the opening quarter gave the Titans a first-and-10 from the Green Bay 13-yard line. Shonn Greene wasted no time taking the first down carry through a wide open hole on the left side, walking into the end zone for Tennessee's first score of the game. Maikon Bonani missed the 33-yard experimental extra point, keeping the game at 7-6 Packers.
The second team offense showed flashes in the second quarter, highlighted by Charlie Whitehurst evading the oncoming rush and finding Bishop Sankey for a 23-yard catch and run. A sack stalled the drive as the 7-6 score line held into the half.
“Conditions were pretty tough,” Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt said after the first half. “It’s something that we get a chance to look at and work on. We had some mistakes, but we made some good plays. We had some guys that made some plays.”
Green Bay opened the scoring in the second half on a Rajion Neal 12-yard touchdown run. Wide receiver Chris Harper provided the big play of the drive, finding himself wide open down the left sideline for a 38-yard reception. The Packers' failed two-point conversion attempt left the score 13-6.
Sankey led the Titans' response with five carries for 24 yards and a five-yard touchdown reception from Charlie Whitehurst, capping a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Travis Coons connected on his PAT attempt, tying the game at 13 apiece. Sankey finished with 37 yards on 13 carries and three receptions for 38 yards and one touchdown.
Mettenberger entered the contest and played the entire fourth quarter. His first throw was a third-down dart to Isaiah Williams for a first down. The drive however ended abruptly with Mettenberger losing control of the wet football, which was recovered by Packers linebacker Jake Doughty. The rookie QB’s second drive wasn’t any smoother after having a pass deflect off the hands of Battle and into the awaiting arms of Packers linebacker Korey Jones for the interception.
Trailing 16-13 after a Mason Crosby 32-yard field goal, Mettenberger found his mojo. Consecutive long completions to tight end Chase Coffman (26 yards) and receiver Brian Robiskie (38 yards) put the Titans on the Packers' nine yard line. Two plays later, Battle put the finishing touches on the drive with a seven-yard touchdown run on a toss to the right side. Bonani’s PAT made it 20-16 Titans.
The Titans' defense stood tall to close the game, stopping the Packers on second and one, third and one, and again on fourth and one from their own 24-yard line. Tennessee will take their 1-0 preseason record to New Orleans next Friday, Aug. 15 for the team’s first road game.
NOTES: Rookie DB Marqueston Huff sacked Packers QB Scott Tolzien to end the first half … C Chris Spencer left the game in the first half with an ankle injury and did not return … Battle was on the punt return unit and nearly blocked a punt in the first half … First-round pick Taylor Lewan played left tackle with the second team offense … LB Colin McCarthy left the game with a left shoulder injury