Winners of 6 of their last 7 games, the 8-5 Titans have taken it to a new level since their Week 11 bye. Since their week off they’ve outscored their opponents 115 to 58, winning by 22, 14, and 21. Two of those victories coming on the road against (former) wildcard competitors.
It’s a run the likes of which we’ve rarely seen with this franchise and it’s being led by an offense that’s making a regular habit of breaking franchise records. Let’s get into some of those in winners and losers from Titans 42, Raiders 21.
Arthur Smith: Winner
Usually I save the coaches for the end, but Smith deserves top billing here. The Titans broke the franchise record for yards per offensive play for the second time in three weeks today with a 552 yard offensive avalanche in Oakland. The Titans 9.36 yards per play against the Raiders ranks as the 17th most efficient offensive performance in the NFL since 1970. That gives the 2019 Titans 2 of the 30 most efficient offensive performances in modern NFL history in the past three weeks. Absolutely unbelievable performances.
The 552 total yards represent a pretty significant performance in itself. It checks in as the 6th highest total in franchise history behind two Warren Moon era games and three games from the AFL Champion 1961 Oilers:
- 1991 Oilers gained 583 yards vs Dallas Cowboys
- 1961 Oilers gained 582 yards vs Denver Broncos
- 1961 Oilers gained 573 yards vs New York Titans
- 1990 Oilers gained 563 yards vs Kansas City Chiefs
- 1961 Oilers gained 555 yards vs New York Titans
The Titans probably could have had more — they already had 500 yards of total offense by the end of the 3rd quarter — but they took their foot off the gas after going up 42-21.
Smith is balancing the run and pass beautifully and it’s an absolute joy to watch right now.
Ryan Tannehill: Winner
What more can we say about Ryan Tannehill? The game started with an interception on a tipped screen pass on the first drive, but that didn’t phase him one bit (though he did phase the defensive lineman who picked it with a vicious tackle on the return). Tannehill proceeded to shred the Raiders secondary with surgical precision, racking up 391 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air on 21 of 27 passing. Tannehill became just the third player in NFL history to post a passer rating of at least 130 for four straight games, joining Russell Wilson in 2015 and John Hadl in 1973.
These weren’t empty stats either. Tannehill was near perfect today. This bomb to A.J. Brown for a 91-yard touchdown being the biggest highlight of a game full of highlights for the Titans QB.
QB @ryantannehill1, under heavy pressure, delivers a perfect over-the-shoulder ball to @Brown1arthur and just like that it's a 91-yard touchdown for the #Titans. #TENvsOAK #ProBowlVote pic.twitter.com/TxcUrnigyO— Titans Film Room (@titansfilmroom) December 8, 2019
Tannehill completed passes to 10 different targets, getting all of his weapons involved and baffling a Raiders secondary that simply had no answers for the Titans passing attack.
His 14.48 yards per attempt is the 7th best single game mark in franchise history (minimum 10 attempts) and that’s the second time in the last three weeks that he’s checked into the top 10 in that category. That also means that his league-leading 9.1 yards per attempt for the season is going to separate even further from the pack this week, jumping to a ridiculous 9.8 YPA. The next closest quarterback with at least 100 attempts is Matt Stafford’s 8.6 YPA, over a full yard per attempt lower than Tannehill’s mark.
He’s up to 1,993 passing yards and 15 passing touchdowns in 7 starts (and a little less than one half of the Broncos game). That’s a 4,000 yard, 30 touchdown pace and it’s becoming more and more difficult to discount it due to sample size. Ryan Tannehill has been simply stunning in his first seven starts as a Titan.
Derrick Henry: Winner
Another week, another 100-yard game for Henry. That’s four straight now as he rumbled for 103 yards and 2 touchdowns on 18 carries despite clearly being less than 100% for much of the game.
#Titans @KingHenry_2 takes the carry from the 10 and slashes towards the end zone, extending the ball over the goal line for his second touchdown of the game #TENvsOAK #ProBowlVote pic.twitter.com/Nuoc9ne2De— Titans Film Room (@titansfilmroom) December 8, 2019
Henry’s health will obviously be a big topic of conversation throughout this week. His hamstring issue that has limited him in practices throughout the last couple weeks was clearly hampering him late in this game as his usual burst through the second level simply wasn’t there on a couple runs in the second half.
The good news is that Henry didn’t leave the game until it was well in hand and his postgame comments seemed to suggest that he felt pretty confident about his availability for the massive Week 15 matchup with Houston. I’m guessing we will see him given days off from practice this week to try and let his ailing hammy heal.
Henry’s 103 yard game puts him into 2nd in the rushing title race, just 38 yards behind Nick Chubb.
A.J. Brown: Winner
The Titans rookie — and top wide receiver — had another big game today, posting 5 catches for 153 yards with 2 touchdowns. We already highlighted his massive 91-yard score above so let’s take a look at his second score here.
#Titans @TheCDavis84 runs a great route to free up @Brown1arthur, who takes his fourth catch of the game and runs through defenders into the end zone for his second touchdown. Should be rookie of the year #ProBowlVote #TENvsOAK pic.twitter.com/1AtV8kBJYJ— Titans Film Room (@titansfilmroom) December 8, 2019
The Titans have done a great job of letting Brown play to his strengths. He frequently gets the ball running into space with room to operate. His ability to break tackles after the catch — as fully demonstrated on this score — is special. He almost never goes down with first contact, requiring defenses to rally to the ball downfield.
He’s now up to 779 yards and 6 touchdowns on the year and has an outside shot at breaking Ernest Givins franchise rookie record for receiving yards set at 1,062 in 1986. Brown is a special talent and was an absolute steal at pick 51.
Jayon Brown: Winner
Brown is a playmaker and he turned in two gems today. The first was this Troy Polamalu-esque leap over the line to stuff a Raiders run in the backfield.
The second was scooping and scoring the final touchdown of the day on a fumble forced by our next winner...
Tye Smith: Winner
The “Peanut Punch” was made famous former Bears corner Charles “Peanut” Tillman who had a penchant for forcing fumbles with 44 over the course of his career, easily the most among defensive backs since the league started tracking that stat in 1993. Tye Smith seems to have a little bit of Tillman’s game in him as he’s now forced two fumbles in the last two weeks since being pushed into the starting lineup due to injuries.
Great play by #Titans @TyeSmithCB to knock the ball loose. @JayonBrown12 picks it up and takes it all the way to the end zone and the Titans have doubled up Oakland's score #TENvsOAK #ProBowlVote pic.twitter.com/BqE7LkTaIS— Titans Film Room (@titansfilmroom) December 8, 2019
That’s a skill that Logan Ryan talked up during the week and it helped the Titans seal the win in this one.
Khari Blasingame: Winner
The Titans recently added fullback has been a factor in the last couple games as a blocker, but the team got the rookie UDFA out of Vanderbilt involved as a pass catcher in this one, tossing him two passes that he turned into 47 yards. Blasingame looked natural as a pass catcher, Mossing our friend Will Compton for one grab.
And then showing off the wheels after the catch on this big gain.
Blasingame looks like he could be a real weapon for this team down the stretch. Good job by Jon Robinson to pluck him off the Vikings practice squad during the bye week.
The Offensive Line: Winners
Zero sacks allowed, 5.0 yards per carry, and over 552 total yards is a pretty good day at the office for the Titans offensive line. This group has really improved in recent weeks and it’s doing the dirty work to help Tannehill, Henry, and company put up gaudy offensive stats.
Jeffery Simmons: Winner
The Titans first round pick was excellent again this week, picking up his second sack of the season and adding two tackles for loss in the run game as well.
Simmons is a stud.
Jonnu Smith, Anthony Firkser, and MyCole Pruitt: Winners
The Titans are replacing Delanie Walker’s production with a combination of these guys and they got it done today. Firkser and Pruitt both had huge catches (even if it looked like Pruitt was running with cinder block shoes after he caught it) and Smith Moss’ed another Raiders defender for a touchdown.
#Titans @ryantannehill1 finds @Easymoney_81 in the back of the end zone off the play-action throwback and the tight end comes down with a brilliant contested catch #TENvsOAK #ProBowlVote pic.twitter.com/Xaj6GvOI8w— Titans Film Room (@titansfilmroom) December 8, 2019
You’ve gotta love that last play to Jonnu Smith. It’s not a perfect throw, but Tannehill trusts Smith to make a play and the tight end rewards him with a big touchdown.
The First Half Defense: Losers
There were a couple losers in this one despite the lopsided result. The Titans defense gave up touchdowns on three of their first four drives of the game and generally looked out of sorts in the first half. They were down some significant pieces in the secondary, but things were really ugly at times for the defense early.
The Second Half Defense: Winners
Fortunately, the Titans were able to adjust at halftime and shut the Raiders out after the break despite several Oakland drives starting with pretty good field position. They also got in on the scoring themselves with the Tye Smith forced fumble that Jayon Brown scooped and scored on.
Ryan Succop: Loser
There was once a time when I had “get up and go to the bathroom” level confidence when Succop would line up for a kick inside 50 yards. Safe to say that’s no longer the case. The veteran kicker clanged his only field goal attempt off the upright from 42 yards at the end of the first half and he’s now just 1 of 5 for the season. That’s... umm... terrible.
Succop did make all 6 of his extra point attempts, so that’s good, but I don’t know what the Titans do with him right now. Part of me wants them to bring Cody Parkey back. Hang on... I’ve gotta go vomit.
Mike Vrabel: Winner
Vrabel had his team prepared and ready to roll on the west coast — a place that has haunted this team recently — and despite a week of praise from the media for their win over the Colts. As we saw in Houston today, showing up and beating a team that’s not very good isn’t always a Lock (get it?).
Vrabel has his team clicking at the most important time of the year and now they have a chance to go stake a claim to the AFC South lead for the first time since Week 1 on Sunday.
Titans Fans: Winners
We’ve waited a loooooooong time for an offense like this. The Titans entered the top 10 in total points scored this week and this is a franchise that hasn’t finished higher than 14th in scoring since 2003. This is a lot of fun to watch and this fan base deserves it after years of low scoring, grind-it-out teams.
More immediately, this is a massive win for fans that are going to the Titans-Texans game coming up next Sunday. That should be a wild atmosphere in Nissan Stadium with a red hot team getting a chance to climb to the top of the AFC South standings with just two games left to play. It’s a huge opportunity and it’s one that fans need to show out for.