Titans Blow 16-Point Lead, But Hold Off Texans For Incredible Win

Photo by the author.

By Terrance Turner

Today, the Tennessee Titans made the playoffs with a loss by Miami. They slugged it out with the Houston Texans today in an edge-of-your-seat match that went right down to the wire. Today’s match started off slow, with a field goal apiece by both teams. But at the start of the second quarter, the offense lit up. Titans running back Derrick Henry took off, breaking tackles — including one by defensive end J.J. Watt — to streak down the field for the touchdow. Henry scored the game’s first touchdown, putting the Titans ahead 10-3.

After another field goal by the Texans, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill found receiver A.J. Brown for the touchdown. That extended the Titans’ lead, making it 17-6. A touchdown on the Texans’ drive was overturned; receiver Brandin Cooks stepped just outside the lines as he caught the ball. The Texans settled for a field goal, which Fairbairn kicked through. It was 17-9 at halftime.

As the second half began, the Titans put together a drive that included a 29-yard catch-and-run by Brown (?) and a crucial catch by tight end Anthony Firkser. The Firkser catch took the team into the end zone. Then Tannehill handed the ball to Henry, who jogged untouched into the end zone for the touchdown. That made it 24-9.

But the Texans put together a winning drive of their own. Watson found Cooks for the TD. But kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn missed the extra point. That made it a nine-point game. Tennessee padded the lead again on their next drive. The key, again, was Henry, who broke three tackles and slammed into another Texans defender as he ran. Then, as a fifth Texans defender tried to tackle him, Henry spun and landed on the ground, near the five-yard line. Tannehill kept the ball and dashed into the end zone to make it 31-15.

Watson found Cooks for another TD. But the two-point conversion failed, making it 31-21. The Texans caught a break, however, on the Titans’ next drive. Henry fumbled the ball. The Texans recovered and rapidly made it to the goal line. David Johnson ran in for the touchdown. That made it a three-point game: 31-28.

A.J. Brown made a crucial catch for the first down. Texans’ Charles Omenihu hit Tannehill in the face just after he threw the ball. Omenihu was flagged for roughing the passer, which added 15 yards to the end of the play. Automatic first down. The Texans later scored. Pharoah Brown caught the touchdown, to give the Texans the lead. They led for the first time — 35-31 — after scoring 20 unanswered points.

With time ticking away, the Titans mounted a drive. A rushing touchdown by Henry was wiped out by a holding call from the refs — which even the announcers disagreed with. But no challenge flag was thrown. The clock ran down even further, hitting the two-minute warning.

As the clock ran under 2:00, Tannehill made a run for it, getting all the way to the half-yard line. The Texans defense kept him from crossing the goal line. Tannehill eventually scored. But the refs again took the touchdown away, alleging illegal formation by the Titans. But with just 1:42 left, Tannehill tried again. This time, it worked: running diagonally towards the sideline, Tannehill finally scored. That gave the Titans a tenuous 38-35 lead.

The Texans were flagged on the extra-point try (for illegal formation) and then again on their punt return (for holding). The latter penalty cost the Texans 10 yards. Then — in an eerie example of history repeating itself — Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler got another joint catch. In a play similar to that of the Titans-Colts game, Butler caught the ball at the same time as Cooks. The refs upheld the original call of a completed catch by Cooks. That gave the Texans a chance.

After a heart-stopping last-chance drive, the Texans were forced to kick a field goal. Ka’imi Fairbairn nailed a 51-yard field goal to tie the game!

With the game tied at 38, the Titans had 18 seconds to put together a drive. Just when he needed to, Tannehill reared back and hurled a 54-yard pass, which was caught by A.J. Brown. That incredible catch put the Titans in field-goal range; Henry ran a few more yards to put the Titans closer. With four seconds left, the Titans attempted a field goal. Their kicker Stephen Gostkowski was out; a rookie was taking his place.

Somehow, the rookie made good. Samuel Sloman’s 37-yard field goal was a showstopper: the ball veered to the right, bounced off the upright and somehow went through. The result shocked everyone, but Henry’s reaction was one for the books:

The Titans win, 41-38. With this win (their 11th), they have won the AFC South for the first time since 2008. Not only have they made the playoffs, they have won their division. As usual, their strong running game was a key to their success. (The Titans are now the only franchise to have TWO running backs both achieve over 2,000 yards in a season.) And as usual, the motor for their high-powered offense was Derrick Henry.

Henry has won the rushing title for the second straight year. Henry’s 2,027 yards are the fifth-most ever in one season, per NBC Sports. He is only the eighth player in NFL history to have 2,000 rushing yards in a single season. And according to Yahoo! Sports writer Frank Schwab, he’s the first to achieve that since Adrian Peterson in 2012. Henry, according to Fifth Quarter Stats, has now rushed for 200+ yards and multiple touchdowns for the 3rd time this season. He is the 1st player in NFL history to accomplish this feat.

But it was the climactic, heart-stopping field goal by Titans kicker Samuel Sloman that sealed the game. Players on both teams reacted with shock and awe. But for the Titans, that surprise quickly gave way to jubilation — and celebration.

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Titans celebrate their unforgettable win today. Photo from Twitter (@Titans).

Derrick Henry Shines as Titans Avenge Colts

By Terrance Turner

The Tennessee Titans came to Lucas Oil Stadium today to battle the Indianapolis Colts (whom they lost to just 17 days ago). But the Titans had no intention of repeating history. Their offense exploded in the first half, led by running back Derrick Henry. What began as a shootout in the first half quickly turned into a dominant offensive performance by the Titans. With Henry’s help, they avenged the Colts with a big win.

Derrick Henry scored the game’s first touchdown, but the Colts responded with a touchdown of their own. The Titans scored out of nowhere when receiver A.J. Brown had a 69-yard catch and run. They went up 14-7. But the Colts clapped back when quarterback Philip Rivers found receiver Trey Burton for the touchdown. That tied the two teams at 14 points apiece.

The Titans took over and drove down the field. On 3rd and goal, Tannehill got sacked, but the Colts defense got flagged for illegal hands to the face. That gave the Titans a fresh set of downs, and Henry scored again to put them ahead 21-14. But he wasn’t done yet. With 1:41 left in the second quarter, Henry found the end zone again with an 11-yard run. He broke past defenders to score his third touchdown of the day, giving the Titans a 28-14 lead. (Henry is the first Titans player with 3 rushing touchdowns in the first half since Lorenzo White in 1999.)

The Colts’ woes continued as the second half came to a close. Special-teamer Matthew Adams was flagged for throwing a punch; he was disqualified from the game. Then the Colts defense struggled to contain the surging Titans. On 4th and 4, Titans receiver Corey Davis made a dramatic catch to place the Titans at 1st and goal. Derrick Henry came off the bench, and everyone (including the CBS announcers) expected him to run in for another score. But Tannehill faked a handoff to Henry and then ran into the end zone for the touchdown. The Titans led 35-14 at halftime.

The second half began inauspiciously. The Colts failed to score on either of their first two drives, and the Titans’ offense also slowed to a crawl. But Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski nailed a 49-yard field goal to extend Tennessee’s lead.

The Colts got life in the fourth quarter when Rivers hurled a pass to receiver T.Y. Hilton. But the aggressive Titans defenders stripped the ball from him. Upon review, however, the ruling of a fumble was reversed; Hilton’s knee was down. The Colts took advantage of the call and scored when Jacoby Brissett muscled his way into the end zone on a 1-yard run.

With the score 38-20, the Colts caught another break. Indianapolis receiver Zach Pascal caught the ball, but so did Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler. The two fell to the ground and wrestled for control of the ball. Butler eventually wrested control, but the call came down to the refs. After a long conference, the referee ruled that “the receiver and the defender made a simultaneous catch. By rule, the offense retains possession.” That call would lead to a pivotal sequence for Indianapolis.

The Colts began their drive. After a huge pass interference call on the Titans defense, the Colts were placed near the goal line. They cashed in. T.Y. Hilton made a crucial catch in the end zone for another Colts TD. But the two-point conversion attempt was no good.

Just when things were starting to look bad for the Titans, they caught an unexpected break. Out of nowhere, a 42-yard kickoff return by A.J. Brown gave the Titans yet another TD. They won the game 45-26. Tennessee now improves to 8-3 for the season.

Derrick Henry evades Colts defenders as the Titans battle the Colts on Nov. 29. (Photo from CBS Sports.)

Derrick Henry Powers Titans to Overtime Win Against Ravens

Photo courtesy of Twitter.

By Terrance Turner

Nov. 22, 2020 (updated Nov. 23)

The Tennessee Titans rallied from an 11-point deficit to win their match against the Baltimore Ravens today. It was a surprising end to a game that got heated early, with Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler arguing with Ravens coach John Harbaugh during the pregame. That led to Harbaugh having words with Titans coach Ryan Vrabel. Other players also began exchanging words, according to CBS.

Predictably, the ensuing action made for a tough, physical game. Despite being down 21-10 at one point, the Titans combined a strong running game and surprisingly strong passing to tie the game at 24. But it was running back Derrick Henry that sealed their win in overtime, dashing past defenders to score a dramatic game-winning touchdown. The Ravens suffered a big loss, compounded by the loss of two major players: running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins have both tested positive for COVID-19, according to Bleacher Report. The NFL announced today that the Ravens have closed their team facility.

Tennessee took an early lead, limiting Baltimore to a field goal. The Titans led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter. But in the second quarter, Tyus Bowser intercepted Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Ravens got the ball, and kicker Justin Tucker nailed another field goal to make it 7-6. With about five minutes left in the quarter, Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins rushed into the end zone for the touchdown. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson later connected with Dobbins for a successful two-point conversion. That gave them the lead.

With the score 14-10 in the third quarter, Lamar Jackson slung a far-flung pass to tight end Mark Andrews. That made the score 21-10, with 9:40 left in the quarter. But the Titans fought back — hard. After two field goals from kicker Stephen Gostkowski, the Titans narrowed the lead to five. It was 21-16, with roughly 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Then receiver A.J. Brown made an incredible TD run, breaking one Ravens tackle after another and pushing past them into the end zone.

But the Ravens weren’t done yet: Justin Tucker made a field goal to tie the game near the end of the fourth quarter. That tied them at 24 and sent the game to overtime.

In overtime, Tannehill launched a big throw to wide receiver Corey Davis. That took them to Baltimore’s 37-yard line. Henry then turned hat could’ve been a loss of two yards into a gain of four. Davis made a second big catch on the next play. Davis’ big game came just 11 days after a major loss: his 27-year-old brother Titus died of kidney cancer on Nov. 11.

After another Henry run, Tannehill hurled the ball to receiver A.J. Brown for an 11-yard gain. Brown was driven to the ground by a Ravens defender. He was shaken up on the play and took time getting up, but he still made the catch. And that catch would set up a stellar touchdown run.

Tannehill threw to Henry. After breaking tackles, Henry made a jump cut to the right, evading the defense and running into the end zone for a 29-yard game-winning touchdown. His shocking score gave his team the win. The Titans won, 30-24. They now improve to 7-3 for the season.

This is Henry’s 50th NFL career TD. He is the first NFL running back to reach 1000 rushing yards for the season, according to FOX Sports. Henry’s sensational performance showed once again how he earned the title “King Henry”.

Photo courtesy of Twitter (@TheCheckdown).