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Titans-Saints Final Score: Justin Hunter shines in 31-24 loss

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Recapping the Saints 31-24 win over the Titans.

Stacy Revere

The Titans took on the Saints in the Dome for their 2nd Preseason matchup, losing out by a score of 34-24. I took the pleasure of recording the game below with a summary for both halves. Enjoy!

- 1ST QUARTER -

Saints 1st drive

Titans come out in base 3-4. Griffin with nice pass defensed. Titans D line allowing rushing yards up the middle. Sensabaugh gives up first down to Thomas in the flat. Good interior pressure forces miss by Saints QB. Great pressure from Woodyard, forces 3rd down. Cooks beats Sensabaugh with Titans in nickel. McCourty with good tackle on Ingram inside. Morgan not fooled by PA boot, but Luke McCown able to find Graham for 1st in the flat.

Showing the 4-3, the Titans get good pressure. Not enough to prevent first down. Great red zone run defense by Brown. Back in base 3-4, the Titans ends got great pressure, but the interior push wasn't there. Flushed QB McCown extended the play, and was able to find Graham for the TD. Not a good showing early from Titans defense. Becoming a pattern.

Titans 1st drive

Following a good return by Mariani, Locker hits Wright on the bubble screen with a quick motion, getting 5. Great draw play to Greene, who finds the gaps and gets to the second level, good for around 15. 1 WR set, Titans Greene shakes an arm tackle and gets 5. Locker stands tall, delivers pass the McCluster in the flat for 1st down. Easy short curl completion to Wright from heavy gun. Good throw to Walker over the middle, who fumbles, Saints recover. A fight ensues following fumble pile. Call overturned. The Titans, with solid mix of run and pass. Locker, Greene, McCluster and Wright looking sharp. Offensive line looking better so far in the better conditions.

Bunch/stack formation to the right, Locker found nothing, and ran for a couple of yards to bring up 2nd and goal. Locker hits Hunter out of the gun on a beautiful end zone fade. Great catch by Hunter, and even better footwork to stay in bounds. Touchdown.

Saints 2nd drive

Titans come out in base 3-4, lose leverage on the left side. Holding call brings the 5 yard gain back. Hill gets great interior push into McCown, but ball gets out. Pass interference on McCourty, gives up the big first down against Joe Morgan. Derrick Morgan narrowly misses sack, forces deep incompletion. Titans showing press coverage, blitz Woodyard, stopping the Saints run for no gain. Titans force punt.

Titans 2nd drive

Offensive line gets no push, and Greene gets a yard at most. Locker climbs the pocket, and delivers a strike on the curl to Washington. Greene picks up a strong five on first down. Locker finds McCluster in the flat, good for 4, bringing up 3rd and 1. Thompson comes down with a 20 yard catch from Locker in the interior. Titans come out in heavy set, with Washington out wide as the sole WR. Greene avoids rushers, bounces left for first down on an impressive short yardage dash. Locker tries to change the play, but runs out of time. Time out. Blocking breaks down on the right side behind Oher and Warmack. McCluster brought down for no gain. The quarter ends.

- 2ND QUARTER -

McCluster makes a man miss, and finds yards inside, called back for holding. Locker has all day on the next snap, but short curl is batted down at the line. Locker escapes sack, rolls out left and delivers dart to Walker. Great play on a mobile platform, but you'd like to see better blocking by Michael Oher. Locker in the open gun, takes the carry inside, bounces outside and gets some positive yards. Titans show heavy formation, Washington motions into backfield, covering the back side as Greene reaches for the sticks, 1 yard short. Greene makes up for it on next carry, crossing the first down marker.

Titans showing greater consistency, moving the sticks systemically. Locker makes mistake on three man rush. Locker makes a mistake, but ball is deflected by corner, into the hands of Wright. Locker looks to get first on the ground, but cut off. Cant' find Wright on deep corner throw. Michael Roos gets bowled into Locker, who takes the sack per Junior Gillette. 4th down. Travis Coons converts the field goal after a penalty, good from 50 yards.

Saints 3rd drive

Titans come out for drive in base 3-4. McCourty beat on intermediate out to Meachem. Ingram taken down by multiple Titan defenders on the right side. Titans don't catch the screen, give up first down to Thomas. Wimbley gets turned around on Saints power sweep. Needs to anchor better there. Titans blitz forces quick pass, but Campbell too slow to capitalize. Graham pushes off on Campbell on the following play, very obvious call. Brown and Woodyard track down dump off quickly, get off the field on 3rd down. Titans looking much more composed after initial drive, yet again.

Titans 3rd drive

Whitehurst enters the game, but the rest of the starters remain, except Oher, who gives way to Lewan. Greene takes carry to right, finding the hole and picking up 8, though you can tack on another few for hands to the face. Greene makes another very good run out of the pistol, but the ball is stripped and the Titans recover. Ugly play, worsened by personal foul by rookie Taylor Lewan.

Saints 4th drive

The Tennessee Titans show 3-4 base. Phillips fails to finish tackle in the flat on RB. The Titans give up up a TD to Jimmy Graham between three defenders. Avery Williamson doesn't get his head around, hung out to dry.

Titans 5th drive

Mariani has huge return wiped out by holding call on Bailey. Whitehurst doesn't call the blitz correctly, and gets leveled by Safety Kenny Vaccaro. Mettenberger, replacing the shaken up Whitehurst, finds Bishop Sankey out in the left flat for a solid gain. All the 2nd stringers in for the Titans. Hunter reels in great toss by Mettenberger, on the outside shoulder. Lewan commits another foul, putting the Titans back 15 yards. Mettenberger avoids noise in the pocket, finds Hunter over the deep middle despite unclear read. Hunter then gallops to the endzone for a big touchdown.

Saints 5th drive

Al Woods takes down Ingram after he gets 5 to the right. Good pressure forces throw away. 2 minute warning. Sensabaugh gives up huge yardage to Joe Morgan, despite good pressure on the Saints QB, Griffin. Mark Ingram shakes a tackle over the middle by George Wilson, then waltzes in for six. You'd like to see better play there after the big play.

Titans 6th drive

Mariani makes another good return, to almost the 30 yard line. Preston dazed on the return. Mettenberger makes a poor throw to Hunter on the intermediate left side, to low and into coverage, almost intercepted by Jean-Bapiste. He then hits Hunter over the middle again with a tight spiraled dart. Mettenberger fails to find his outlet in the flat, gives up sack and fumble to Cameron Jordan. The Saints recover.

Saints 7th drive

Sensabaugh runs stride for stride with Brandin Cooks. Titans track down the screen with tackle behind the line. Titans force 3 and out at the end of the half.

Summary:

After yet again giving up a big opening drive on defense, the Titans rallied, playing more consistently up front. Despite decent pressure, the defensive line lacked the final step to get the Quarterback on the turf. Sensabaugh struggled defending the deep out and the vertical routes, and there is still some shoddy tackling going on. The Titans backers have been playing down hill, but, like the line, have failed thus far to make the splash play. Nobody stood out on the back side of the team outside of some nice early work by Jason McCourty. Phillips, Ayers, Morgan, and Wimbley know they need to capitalize at a higher rate than they have today.

The Titans offense was crisp under Jake Locker, with good runs by Greene mixed in a balanced fashion. Justin Hunter has been a consistent threat for the Saints secondary, and his two TD's from different QB's give credence to what we've been hearing and seeing in camp. Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker got in on some action as well. You'd like to see better play by Michael Oher and even Roos at times, but Locker was able to climb the pocket and stand tall, delivering accurate passes, and bailing from the pocket without forcing risky throws (though he did toss one toward the end of his snap time). Behind him Mettenberger continued his up and down ways, dazzling on some nice throws, in particular to Justin Hunter. Needs to be more consistent, with a near pick and holding on to the ball too long, leading to a strip sack. Lewan got to play with the starters today; he needs to cut out the negative plays.

3rd Quarter -

Titans 1st drive

Zach Mettenberger delivers pass after pass to a variety of targets, primarily Taylor Thompson and Michael Preston, including one particular pass with his legs wrapped up, which ended in a first down. He's been accurate, standing tall in the pocket. Titans offense picking up the pace. Thompson gets his hands on another catch outside the numbers, first down.

Titans go heavy set, and the Saints respond with added bodies, bringing Sankey down in the backfield. Mettenberger finds Mooney on the dump off in the flat, but yardage is lost. Titans go four wide from the gun, Mettenberger steps up into pressure and delivers a good pass, but Robiskie can't hold on. Titans punt.

Saints 1st drive

Titans come out in base 3-4, but don't get solid pressure. They give up huge pass to the deep middle, from Griffin to Joe Morgan. Wilson can't get back in time to prevent the completion. The Titans stop a right sided run for negative yardage. Wooten gets burned deep, but Cooks can't reel in the endzone deep ball. Stafford capitalizes on an errant pass and intercepts the ball, but the play is called back because of a penalty.

Ayers gets great burst off the snap. The ballcarrier is take down at the line. Griffin gets too much time, but can't find a target, leading to an Akeem Ayers coverage sack. Great coverage by Zaviar Gooden, breaking up a pass to a Saints TE, forcing punt.

Titans 2nd drive

Byron Stingily opens up a nice hole on the right, and Sankey takes advantage, rushing for 12. Sankey takes another carry from the offset I formation, spinning and twirling his way to another 8 yards. Mettenberger delivers an accurate strike deep left to TE Chase Coffman, who makes the catch despite interference. Sankey makes an adjustment on the following run, bouncing outside for 11. Hagan makes a tough outside shoulder catch, but inexplicably fumbles to ball. Saints recover.

Saints 2nd drive

Avery Williamson tracks down the runner on the left, despite a hold, but shows some open field limits, missing the tackle on the next throw. Stafford and co. can't stop the short curl, and the Saints have a first down. Griffin finds his TE across the middle for another first down in front of the Titans backers. A short run ends the quarter.

- 4th Quarter -

The Saints go 4 wide from the empty gun. Stafford tracks down the TE across the middle, but can't prevent the 1st down. Following a short three yard interior run, the Saints sweep left, and Williamson tracks it and the runner is pushed out after a gain of 4. Safety Daimion Stafford makes a great play in the flat to bring down the runner after a dump off, forcing 4th. Avery Williamson and Moise Fokou stop an inside run, turning over the ball on downs.

Titans 3rd drive

On the first play of the drive, Mettenberger is picked off on the right outside. His throw is too low and can't get over the top of the Saints safety. One of a couple notable miscues on the day from him.

Saints 3rd drive

The Titans stop an interior run after a gain of 3, with Al Woods and Avery Williamson front and center. Blidi Wreh-Wilson breaks up an endzone bound pass, covering stride for stride. Titans blitz from the 3-4 look, getting a hit on Griffin and forcing an incompletion. The Saints end up settling for a field goal on the short field, a good stop by a Titans defense who'd been out there for a good while.

Titans 4th drive

Metternberger can't complete the pass to the left deep side. Sankey fumbles the ball on the ensuing play, leading to another lost turnover to the Saints.

Saints 4th drive

The Titans give up 5 on the inside. Pellerin misses a tackle on the next out route, giving up the first. Chigbo tracks down another Sanits run, giving them 4 on the play. Fokou can't break up the inside pass, but coverage is tight. Pellerin misses what could have been an easy pick six. Despite good coverage on the next play, Pellerin can't stop a circus catch for six, that puts the Saints up.

Titans 5th drive

The Titans go short trips right, but Antonio Andrews' run is bottled up without anywhere to go. Much the same on the next play, this time out of the offset I. The offensive line broke down inside on both plays. Mariani drops a pass that was behind him, despite getting his mittens on it. The Titans are punting again. This has become a theme in the second half.

Saints 5th drive

After a couple inside runs, Micah Pellerin can't play close enough to the wideout to prevent the curl on the outside and another first. Avery Williamson buries the inside run for little gain. He's been around the ball, but much better in run support than in space. Wooten gets burned for almost 20 yards

Jonathan Willard makes a nice run stop inside for the Titans. Great penetration on the following play, Willard again cleans up the run with a solid tackle. Out of the 3-4 base, the Titans get good pressure, and Marqueston Huff breaks up a deep air-mailed pass, forcing 4th down.

Titans 6th drive

Chase Coffman picks up a nice gain from Mettenberger over the middle, picking up about 25 yards. The next play, out of the gun, Mettenberger again holds the ball too long, and it sacked, leading to the 2 minute warning. Mettenberger finds Robiskie and Mariani out of the gun, but can't convert a short slant from under center. Then he completes a deep middle pass to Isaiah Williams to put the Titans in the red zone. The next play, Andrews stumbles on the draw. Mettenberger can't find an open man, and takes off, getting hit hard at about the five. Chase Coffman catches a deflected Mettenberger pass for a touchdown, bringing the game to a close at 35-24.

Summary

The second half was one riddled with errors for the Titans offense, with more than one fumble going the wrong way. Mettenberger continued his streaky play, with some excellent rhythm passing followed by an interception and some erratic decision making. He's definitely an ambitious passer. Bishop Sankey is in his element already in the Titans offense, picking up good yards on almost every touch. The second string offensive line failed to impress much, even with the Saints not being able to get out of their own way much all night with penalties. Taylor Thompson made himself available again; the light seems to be coming on for him at this point after an impressive camp.
The defense was similarly less dynamic in the second half. Stafford stood out on some plays for the second straight game. Inside backer Avery Williamson was a double edged coin, playing well in the box and poorly outside of it. Wooten and Pellerin had issues defending passes on the outside all night, and weren't confident against the deep ball.
The Titans certainly showed more than they did in the deluge against the Packers, and I think the coaches will be pleased with the growth despite the final score.