Lamar Jackson Earns Playoff Win (Finally) as Ravens Top Titans

By Terrance Turner

Jan. 10, 2021

Today, the Baltimore Ravens battled the Tennessee Titans in the NFL playoffs. It’s the second day of a two-day tripleheader. It was a tale of two defenses. Baltimore’s defense contained Derrick Henry, holding him to 40 yards, and Tennessee’s defense utterly failed to stop Lamar Jackson. The Ravens quarterback rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown as the Ravens defeated the Titans, 20-13.

Both teams went three-and-out on their opening drives. Tennessee rebounded with a scoring drive that featured two first-down catches by Titans receiver A.J. Brown. Tight end Anthony Firkser made a crucial first-down catch. That was followed by a one-handed grab by Brown for the touchdown. That made it 7-0.

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson got intercepted by Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler. (That’s Butler’s second postseason pick, after the one he made for the Patriots during a Super Bowl.) Tennessee soon launched another drive. Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill hit Firkser for 35 yards. That set up a 45-yard field goal by Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski. 10-0.

In the second quarter, Jackson took the Ravens to the red zone. They have struggled in this area against Tennessee, and this time was no exception. Jackson was sacked in the end zone (this time by Brooks Reed, former Texans linebacker). Tannehill, too, was sacked on the Titans drive.

Jackson led his team to take the lead. On 3rd and 9, Jackson took off, running into the end zone for the touchdown. That tied the game. It was 10-10 as the Titans’ next drive began. It went nowhere, and the Ravens’ next drive ended disastrously. WR Dez Bryant got tangled up with CB Malcolm Butler and got flagged for a late-hit after he knocked Butler over. That 15-yard penalty came near the end of the first half. It was tied 10-10 at the half.

In the second half, Baltimore took the lead. Running back J.K. Dobbins had a 4-yard rushing touchdown to give the Ravens the lead. They were ahead 17-10. The Titans were stymied on their next drive, and the Ravens too had problems when Jackson suffered his fourth sack of the day. The Titans eventually found their footing, driving down to the red zone. But after reaching 1st and goal, the Titans struggled. Tannehill was tackled on 3rd and goal, forcing a field goal. Stephen Gostkowski drilled a 25-yard attempt to make it 17-13.

The Ravens attempted a field goal at the end of their drive, too. But kicker Justin Tucker’s 52-yard attempt was no good. Despite getting flagged for offensive pass interference on a subsequent drive, the Ravens made it within field-goal range. Tucker kicked a field goal to make it 20-13. That’s how it ended. With under two minutes left, Tannehill was intercepted by cornerback Marcus Peters. Baltimore players rushed onto the Titans’ logo, drawing a flag for taunting. But the Ravens ran downfield to nab a first-down and seal their win. They triumphed, 20-13.

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).

Titans Win Thriller in Overtime vs. Texans

The Tennessee Titans overcame costly turnovers and a valiant opponent to win today’s game against the Houston Texans. The Titans rallied from a seven-point deficit late in the fourth to win in overtime, 42-36.

The Tennessee Titans jumped out to an early lead. Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill found tight end Anthony Firkser for a touchdown to make it 7-0. The Titans’ next drive featured a 34-yard carry from running back Derrick Henry, who has become a leading rusher in the NFL. With twelve seconds left in the quarter, Tannehill found receiver A.J. Brown for the touchdown. That gave Tennessee a 14-0 lead.

But the Texans answered with a score of their own. A 13-play drive led to the team’s first TD. On 4th and goal, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson threw a touchdown pass to tight end Darren Fells. That helped the Texans get on the scoreboard, 14-7, in the second quarter.

The Titans took over for a drive marked by some crucial third-down conversions. On 3rd and 12, Titans’ Jonnu Smith had a 13-yard pickup, breaking tackles to extend the drive. Then Firkser had another critical catch on 3rd down. Minutes later — out of nowhere — Tannehill launched a 22-yard pass to Adam Humphries for the touchdown.

The Texans’ drive was hampered by penalties — Tytus Howard got flagged first for a chop block and then for holding. But the Texans prevailed to garner some points. Texans kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn knocked through a field goal as time expired. The Titans led the Texans 21-10 at halftime.

But the second half was a completely different story. Houston scored to narrow the lead, 21-17. Tennessee struggled offensively, with a blocked field goal, a punt, and a fumble on its subsequent possessions. The sack came courtesy of J.J. Watt, who tackled Tannehill and forced him to fumble. That made it 1st and goal for the Texans, and they wasted no time scoring. Watson hit WR Randall Cobb for a touchdown. The extra-point kick by Fairbairn was no good. But the Texans were now leading 23-21, and the momentum had completely shifted.

As the third quarter went on, Firkser made another critical catch, and McNichols had a 15-yard play just before the quarter ended. The fourth quarter began with a missed field goal by Stephen Gostkowski (who’d had a previous field goal blocked). All the momentum appeared to be on the Texans’ side. But their drive stalled. Watson was sacked.

Then, on the next possession, Derrick Henry dazzled viewers with a 94-yard touchdown run. The Titans decided to attempt a two-point conversion; they succeeded. The end-zone catch by receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine made it 29-23. But then the Texans struck back, with a stunning 53-yard TD courtesy of Watson and WR Will Fuller.

On their next drive, the Titans suffered a major setback when Tannehill was intercepted by Texans corner Bradley Roby. The Texans cashed in with a TD by WR Brandin Cooks. But, instead of kickiing the exta point and making it a eight-point game, Texans head coach Romeo Crennel elected to go for two. But the two-point conversion was no good. That left the score 36-29, with just 1:50 remaining.

Scrambling, the Titans hurried to score before time ran out. Tannehill went on a tear, throwing one completed pass after another. But they did some run plays, too. Henry rushed for one play; McNichols ran on another. But the clock continued to run. 1:10 became :53, and 53 seconds soon turned into 30. Then it ran down to 10. With just seconds remaining, Tannehill threw to receiver A.J. Brown, for the touchdown. That left the game tied, 36-36, with just four seconds left.

The game went into overtime. The Titans launched a down-the-field drive that ended in spectacular fashion: Henry got the ball and ran into the end zone for the touchdown. (Henry ran for 264 yards, according to the NFL. He becomes the first NFL player EVER to have 200 yards rushing in three straight seasons.) In the end, it was Henry’s late-game heroics that won the day. The Titans won in overtime, 42-36.

The Tennessee Titans (5-0) remain undefeated.

Titans Triumph Against Bills in Blowout Win

By Terrance Turner

Tonight — after 16 days — the Tennessee Titans returned to play, on a rare Tuesday night football game. (According to CBS, this is only the second time in 70 years that a game has been played on Tuesday night.) The unusual date came after a series of delays and reschedules. The Titans’ match with the Buffalo Bills had to be postponed twice after an outbreak of COVID-19.

The Tennessean says the reason for the delay was a flurry of positive COVID-19 tests for Titans team members โ€” 20 of them, including 10 players and 10 team personnel. The Titans were forced to close their facility. Later two more tests were positive. But then the outbreak exploded: eight positive tests included five team personnel and three players: defensive lineman DaQuan Jones, long snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson.” The facility was again shut down until the following Saturday. 

The NFL said on Wednesday, Sept. 30 that the Titans-Bills game would be moved to either Monday or Tuesday. That would’ve placed it at around Oct. 6. But another player tested positive on Oct. 1, per the Tennessean, and the next day, two more Titans players โ€” wide receivers Adam Humphries and Cam Batson โ€” tested positive. That brought the total number of infected players since Sept. 24 to eight. The NFL began to investigate the team’s handling of the pandemic. The Titans-Bills game that had been scheduled for Sunday was rescheduled for Tuesday night.

And after all that, the Tennessee Titans shined. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another, and running back Derrick Henry

The team jumped out to an early 7-0 lead when quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw to AJ Brown. But after a Bills TD, Titans running back Derrick Henry scored a rushing touchdown to make it 14-7. Then, on the next drive, he stiff-armed Bills cornerback Josh Norman, knocking him to the ground:

The scores just kept coming for the Titans. Later in the second half, Tannehill dashed into the end zone for the touchdown, making it 21-10. Then, just as the Bills were trying to put together a drive, quarterback Josh Allen was intercepted by Titans corner Malcolm Butler. After the catch, Butler was pursued by a Bills defender, but he somehow got away. Butler spun out of a tackle, stumbled on the turf, put his hand on the field to steady himself, scrambled to his feet, and then took off:

It was a 68-yard return, according to the CBS announcers. It was a crucial play that would mark a turning point in the game. The Titans cashed in on that costly interception when Tannehill hit Jonnu Smith for the touchdown.

In the second half, Derrick Henry helped power the Titans offense. Henry barreled through defenders, sometimes stiff-arming them, to gain yards. CBS announcers pointed out that Henry is hard to tackle, at 6’3 and 250 lbs. The Titans were up 28-16. On the drive, Henry had several rushes, and Tannehill turned on the jets with a 20-yard run.

The Titans got to 1st and goal. Henry ran in for the TD, his second of the night. Titans player Derek Long knocked out the ball on a Bills punt return. Titans got the ball and decided to go for broke. Tannehill ran sideways and tossed the ball to Jonnu Smith for the touchdown! Call goes under review; commentators were conflicted on a “really close” call. Did Tannehill go over the line of scrimmage? Would the touchdown count?

“After review, the ruling on the field stands,” the ref announced. “Touchdown.”

Jonnu Smith added another touchdown later in the fourth quarter to seal the win. The Titans won in a blowout, 42-16, to remain undefeated.