By Rafael Garcia
Sr. Contributing Writer
September 26, 2012
Tennessee 44 Detroit 41
Well, this was a game for the ages, as they say in sports. The Titans came into this game knowing it was a must win situation. They had been blown out in the first two weeks of the season and needed some kind of spark. What they did was blow the joint up in one of the craziest games LP Field has ever witnessed. Shades of big games past, an amazing catch and a finish the Kentucky Derby would be envious of.
After two games Jake Locker was under the gun. Was he the right choice? Should the team have gone with Matt Hasselbeck? These were some of the questions being thrown around this organization and fan base. The team and fans had hopes for this year, but a 0-3 start would basically doom the season.
Well, Locker came out and shut the critics up, at least for a week. He was simply marvelous and showed what this team may have in their young star. In his first NFL win he went 29-42 for 378 yards and two touchdowns. He had no turnovers and ran for 35 yards on four carries. One of those runs was a beauty of 31 yards that showed his speed and grit. He took off after scanning the field and did not even hesitate to take on a tackler before going down. Sure, he had a fumble early, but he showed that he can bounce right back after a mistake. When he hit TE Jared Cook for a 61-yard touchdown pass he ran full speed so he could celebrate in the end zone too. It was a big game for the second year pro that should fill him with the confidence he needs to become a star in this league.
There were a host of other big plays as well. The Titans became the first team in NFL history to score five touchdowns of at least 60 yards. It started in the first quarter with the Titans down 6-3. Detroit punted the ball to the right of them and the ball landed in the hands of Darius Reynaud. He immediately turned to his right, and left handed, he tossed the ball in the air into the open arms of Tommie Campbell. Campbell possesses great speed and showed it as he ran right down the sidelines for a 65-yard touchdown. The play was reminiscent to the famous Music City Miracle play in 1999. Reynaud would be involved in the next one when he took a kickoff five yards deep and ran it back 105 yards for a touchdown. On the play, converted TE Taylor Thompson had a crushing block to clear the way for Reynaud. Nate Washington wanted some to be part of the highlights and grabbed a pass behind the back of his defender. That should have been where he fell down, but not Washington. He would acrobatically catch the ball on the defenders back and never break stride on his way to a spectacular 71-yard score. Later, Detroit QB Matthew Stafford threw a pass to TE Brandon Pettigrew and he was stripped of the ball by Alterraun Verner and he ran 72 yards to make it 41-27 with 1:16 to go. Game and match for Tennessee and it was on to Houston with the crucial win. Well, maybe not just yet.
With 1:16 to go, the Lions took possession at their own 20. They proceeded to drive the length of the field in 58 seconds to make it 41-34 with only 18 seconds to go. All Tennessee had to go was execute normal onside kick coverage. That did not go well and the Lions had a shot. Stafford lugged a long deep pass that LB Akeem Ayers tipped back into the field of play. Titus Young caught it and it was a tie game.
The Titans would eventually drive down the field by some good Locker play. Rob Bironas would kick the game winner and the Titans are now 1-2 instead of 0-3.
The win did not mask the problems that still plague this team. Running back Chris Johnson is just not getting it done. After three games he has 45 yards and a growing list negative carries. He showed a glimpse and then faded away. The defense gave up 583 yards to the Lions. If they come close to this performance this Sunday, Houston will blow them out of the building. It may be a glimmer of hope, but if you are a fan, don’t get too excited yet.
Jacksonville 22 Indianapolis 17
Houston 31 Denver 25