NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Philly Special?
On this day, the Titans were one play better.
In one of the most memorable games in Nissan Stadium history, the Titans rallied for a 26-23 overtime win over the defending Super Bowl champs, beating the Philadelphia Eagles on the final play of the game.
When receiver Corey Davis went up high to haul in a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Marcus Mariota, it set off a wild celebration on the field and in the stands.
“That’s one you tell your kids about,” Titans center Ben Jones said. “It was something special. … That’s one I will never forget in my life.”
“It was like a movie,” Titans safety Kevin Byard said. “It was crazy.”
Mariota, Davis, Coach Mike Vrabel and the Titans couldn’t have written a better script.
Mariota completed 30-of-43 passes for 344 yards and two touchdowns in the game, and he ran for 46 more yards, including a two-yard touchdown run. Mariota’s touchdown pass to Davis came on third down, with just five seconds left.
It capped off a 16-play, 75-yard drive in 6:14 in overtime, and he found Davis on a third-and-goal play from the 10. The Titans converted three fourth downs on the drive, as Mariota and the Titans didn’t flinch.
“(The end), you’re like a little kid, right?,” Mariota said. “You’re running around the backyard, counting down the seconds. This is why you play the game, to have an opportunity to win it. There was not a blink in the eye in the guys, and we were able to go down there and score.”
A gutsy Vrabel was the director.
With the Eagles ahead 23-20, it initially looked like the Titans would kick a field goal to tie it, facing and 4th and 2 at the Philadelphia 32 with just over a minute to play. But rather than kicking a 50-yard field goal, Vrabel called kicker Ryan Succop back, and sent the offense back on the field. The Titans got the first down, keeping the drive in motion.
And the Titans ended up winning it.
“I don’t know if it was Bad News Bears, but they said tying is like kissing your cousin,” tackle Taylor Lewan said. “(Vrabel) had some guts to go for that, especially vs. the defending champs. We didn’t want to tie, we wanted to win. It’s pretty nice.”
Vrabel said the Titans wanted to be aggressive, and win it.
“We put a lot into every week,” Vrabel said after the game. “Going back to Miami, we put a lot into that opener, you go down there and spend a bunch of time down there on Sunday and you come up short. I felt the team did a great job of coming back together on Wednesday and really locking in on Houston. And then win a big home game, my first win as a coach and they were happy for me, but we came back on Wednesday and we were able to wipe it clean and go on the road to Jacksonville and win a good game down there against a great team. Wiped it clean, and their preparation has been great so the emotions are high.
“We’ll enjoy it, the guys are excited, and I’m excited, I’m happy for them. But we have to come back in and wipe it clean quickly. I’ll wipe it clean here pretty quick, but these guys make sure we come in and we know what Buffalo is doing. We’ve got to go on the road.”
With a smile, Vrabel said the game took its toll on him emotionally.
“We know that we’re going to play close games, we’ve said that, and I think they are embracing that and understand that and they know that these games are going to be close and we’re getting used to it,” Vrabel said. “My heart pills come in, I got a prescription, big bottle. I’m just proud of him to execute in the most critical situation in the game.”
The Titans are now 3-1, and tied for first with the Jaguars in the AFC South at the quarter mark.
On Sunday, the Titans kept swinging against Eagles, and eventually knocked off the defending Super Bowl champs.
The Titans trailed 17-3 in the third quarter. When Mariota connected with receiver Tajae Sharpe for an 11-yard touchdown with 5:01 left, the Titans took a 20-17 lead. The score capped off a string of 17 straight points for the Titans.
But the Eagles tied the game at 20-20 on a Jake Elliott field goal with 16 seconds left, and the game went to overtime. In overtime, Elliott booted a 37-yard field goal on their first possession to make it 23-20.
But the Titans fought back and won it on a huge day for Davis, who caught nine passes for 161 yards in the contest, including a 51-yard catch. Time and again Mariota kept finding him, and time and again Davis kept coming down with the football.
“Literally, I was thinking just go get it,” Davis said of his game-winning catch. “Vrabel always talks about players just making plays, and that’s what it comes down to. So when the ball was in the air, all I was thinking was to go get it.
“I would say this is No.1 for sure,” Davis said of his best career moments. “You know, God is good and His timing is always right on. I’m proud of this team. They were very relentless, and did not stop fighting. It feels really good.”
There were some speed bumps along the way.
The Titans took the opening drive of the game and moved the ball in Eagles territory. The drive ended with a 42-yard field goal by Succop, which made it 3-0.
The Eagles took a 7-3 lead with 4:04 remaining in the second quarter on a 56-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Carson Wentz to receiver Jordan Matthews, who got behind Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler.
The Eagles stretched the lead to 10-3 at the half on a 27-yard field goal by Elliott on the final play of the half. The score came after the Titans held following an interception thrown by Mariota.
The Titans pressured Wentz early, but he moved around and made some plays.
The Eagles extended their lead to 17-3 in the third quarter on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Wentz to receiver Alshon Jeffery, with cornerback LeShaun Sims defending on the play.
But the Titans answered back with an eight-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off with a two-yard touchdown run by Mariota, who dropped back and then raced into the end zone to make it 17-10 with 2:51 left in the third quarter.
The Titans then made a big play on defense, as rookie edge rusher Harold Landry sacked Wentz, who fumbled. Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan jumped on the loose ball, and the Titans turned it into three points on a 33-yard field goal by Succop, which made it 17-13 with 9:18 left.
And the Titans kept coming before a fired up crowd at Nissan Stadium.
Next up is a trip to Buffalo to face the Bills next Sunday.
“At the end of the day, it was a hell of a victory for the Titans,” Byard said. “This game right here, was a game I feel like we deserve respect now. We deserve respect in Tennessee, and we’ve got to keep it rolling. But we definitely deserve respect. Because we’ve beaten two great teams and that needs taken notice of.”
The Tennessee Titans take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4 of the 2018 season on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
The Tennessee Titans prepare to take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4 of the 2018 season on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)