NASHVILLE – The Titans rallied to beat the Colts 31-17 on Sunday in Indianapolis.
Here’s a look at six things that stood out from the game as the team begins to turn its attention to the Oakland Raiders.
Titans running back Derrick Henry is changing games while also changing the conversation about the top running backs in the NFL. A Heisman Trophy winner in college, Henry has to be considered one of the league’s elite backs. Henry was a force again on Sunday, and over his past 16 games the big back has rushed for an NFL-high 1,725 yards and 18 touchdowns. His overall scrimmage totals during that stretch include 1,946 yards and 20 touchdowns. Henry’s rushing totals of 188, 159 and 149 the last three games are one of the main reasons the team has won three in a row.
Tannehill’s Clutch Play
Yes, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill is another main reason the Titans are red-hot. Since taking over as the starter in Week 7, Tannehill has passed for 1,458 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions with a passer rating of 117.1. Tannehill was under heavy pressure in the first half on Sunday in Indianapolis, but he stayed in it and he closed the deal with a 40-yard touchdown strike to receiver Kalif Raymond. Tannehill’s passer rating of 131.2 vs the Colts was his fifth 100-plus game in his six starts. Tannehill’s season passer rating of 113.9 ranks second in the NFL behind only Vikings QB Kirk Cousins (114.8).
The Titans lost the football twice on fumbles, and Tannehill was sacked five times in the first half. If not for a stingy defense – and more solid play on special teams – the Titans could’ve been in a big hole early. Instead, the Titans trailed just 10-7 at the half even though it felt like it could’ve been much worse. The Titans did get some things figured out in the second half, when Tannehill was sacked just once, and the team stopped fumbling.
I mentioned some of the household names right out of the gate, but the Titans had some lesser-known players step up to make big plays on Sunday. Cornerback Tye Smith had a forced fumble, and a scoop-and-score on a blocked field goal late in the game. Special teams ace Dane Cruikshank blocked the kick Smith recovered, and defensive lineman Austin Johnson also had a big field goal block in the first half. Cornerback Kareem Orr, who came off the bench to replace Adoree’ Jackson, was second on the team with eight tackles. And how about the speed and game-sealing touchdown catch from Kalif Raymond? The Titans had a number of under-the-radar guys contribute to the win while making a name for themselves.
Titans punter Brett Kern had another solid day, with a 48.8-yard average and a 42.4-yard net. Kern put four punts down inside the 20 – at the 10, 6, 12 and 10, to be exact. Kern, who has an NFL-high 33 punts inside the 20 in 2019, also had punts of 62 and 65 yards. Kern’s a weapon for the Titans, who also got a made field goal and four extra points from kicker Ryan Succop along with five touchbacks from new kicker Ryan Santoso. All this on a day when the Colts saw Adam Vinatieri go 1-for-4 with a miss and two blocked field goals. The Titans won the special teams battle.
Defense, Defense, Defense
A little bit more about the defense, which kept the Titans in it. On the day, the defense created three turnovers – interceptions by Kevin Byard and Logan Ryan and a fumble recovery by Kamalei Correa on a forced fumble by Smith. It was the team’s third game of the season with at least three takeaways, and the Titans are now plus-five in turnover margin on the season. Also on Sunday, the defense totaled three sacks, marking the unit’s eighth game of 2019 with three or more sacks. Jurrell Casey and Correa got to Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett, and Harold Landry also recorded his ninth sack of the season. The biggest pressure of the day wasn’t a sack, however. It came on Landry’s rush, which led to Brissett throwing a pass that was picked off by Byard. While the Colts got yards, the Titans forced them into a lot of mistakes and field goal tries that, well, didn’t go so well.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Indianapolis Colts in Week 13 of the 2019 season at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Photos: Donald Page)