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Titans Beat Bengals 24-20 with TD in Closing Minute

Posted Nov 12, 2017

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota connected with running back DeMarco Murray on a seven-yard touchdown pass with just 36 seconds left to give the Titans a 24-20 win. The play capped off a 12-play, 73-yard drive that took 4:27 off the clock.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tight end Delanie Walker smiled and started answering the question before it was even finished.

Yes, the Titans know how to win games now. And it wasn’t always like that during Walker’s early years with the team.

“We used to always lose games like this,” said Walker, who joined the Titans in 2013. “I was around when we’ve lost these games, and a lot of them. But it’s not like that around here any longer. We have that want-to, and we have that fight. I am just honored to be a part of this, because we are building something special here.”

The latest evidence came on Sunday, when the Titans rallied for a 24-20 victory over the Bengals.

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota connected with running back DeMarco Murray on a seven-yard touchdown pass with just 36 seconds left to give the Titans the lead. It capped off a 12-play, 73-yard drive that took 4:27 off the clock, and it produced an eruption from the Nissan Stadium crowd.

The Bengals took a 20-17 lead on a 70-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andy Dalton to receiver A.J. Green with 5:03 left in the contest.

“As a competitor, as an athlete, you want to make the play that helps your team win,” Mariota said of the final drive. “It is fun to be in those situations – obviously you don’t want to be in them all the time. But it is exciting to see when it gets down close and it is go-time, guys make a play and we are able to pull it out.”

The Titans improved to 6-3 with the win, and they remain in a first-place tie with the Jaguars atop the AFC South.

The Titans have won four games in a row, the longest winning streak since the 2009 season.

The Titans pulled it out on a day when they made mistakes – receiver Rishard Matthews let a catchable touchdown escape his grasp, and rookie Corey Davis fumbled into the end zone.

But the defense made some critical stops (the Bengals were just 1-of-10 on third down), and the offense produced a beautiful drive early, and a big drive late.

“That was a good win for our team,’’ Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “We had to find a way to win. We had opportunities to do it early in the game and we didn’t, but when we had to at the end, we did. I know I use the word resilient a lot, but that’s, I think, the makeup of this team. It’s amazing that they believe in themselves and they just know we always have a chance to win. That’s important in this business.”

Mariota completed 25-of-44 passes for 264 yards, with a touchdown and an interception, in the contest.

The Titans were able to celebrate after a “Hail Mary” pass by the Bengals fell incomplete on the final play of the game.

“You know what?,” tackle Taylor Lewan said. “We have a four-game winning streak. I am stoked to be on this team. I am stoked to be left tackle for this team and I am stoked to be a part of this great organization. It is a hell of a deal.”

The Titans led most the way, but had to deal with some anxious moments late.

The Titans put together a 10-play, 75-yard drive on their first drive, capping it off with a two-yard touchdown run by Murray.

But the Bengals answered back, making it 7-6 on a 37-yard touchdown pass from Dalton to receiver Brandon Lafell.

The Titans defense made a big play -- and set up another score -- in the second quarter.

Linebacker Brian Orakpo sacked Dalton, and linebacker Derrick Morgan dove on the loose ball at the Cincinnati 27-yard line. Morgan later recovered another fumble.

Murray scored on a one-yard run to cap off a 5-play, 27-yard drive, and it gave the Titans a 14-6 lead. Earlier, the Titans missed a golden opportunity to score, as Matthews dropped a would-be touchdown and kicker Ryan Succop missed a 48-yard field goal.

The Bengals cut the lead to 14-13 with 1:42 left before halftime on a three-yard run by Joe Mixon, which was set up by a Mariota interception.

A 44-yard field goal by Succop on the final play of the half gave the Titans a 17-13 lead at the break.

After a scoreless third quarter, the Titans had a chance to take control early in the fourth quarter. But after a long drive, Davis fumbled as he headed toward the end zone. Instead of a touchdown, the ball went into the end zone and out of bounds for a touchback, which gave the ball back to the Bengals.

“Terrible, it was terrible,” Davis said of his emotions after the play. “I shouldn’t have put my team in that position, that is all. I felt bad.”

But these Titans kept fighting, and pulled it out in the end.

The Titans can’t celebrate long – they face the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

“It’s a different mindset completely from how it used to be,” said Morgan, a Titan since 2010. “No one had a doubt that we were going to win that game, and that is the growth of this team. But it’s a long season, and this is just one game. Every game is important, and we have another one coming up.”