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Titans hold on to beat the Saints, 23-21

Syndication: The Tennessean George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Tennessee Titans have won their sixth straight game today, narrowly beating the New Orleans Saints in Nashville. Once again, it wasn’t all that pretty, but they all count the same in the win column.

No Derrick Henry, Julio Jones, Jameis Winston, Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara or Terron Armstead — this game was lacking some serious star power. Both sides had to change their gameplans in a big way with so many key players sidelined.

This had all the makings of an ugly one, and it lived up to that billing in the first half. Marcus Johnson was the offense for the Titans, catching three passes for 83 yards in the opening half of play. A couple of field goals was all that Tennessee could muster on the scoreboard, however.

New Orleans scored the first touchdown of the game, as Trevor Siemian found Tre’Quan Smith for the score. A missed extra point loomed large, however, keeping the Saints at six points.

The Titans were bailed out late in the second quarter as a Ryan Tannehill pick in the endzone was wiped off the board by a very questionable roughing the passer call. Tannehill capitalized on the gift, sneaking it in to give Tennessee a 13-6 lead at the break.

That turned out to be a massive sequence in this one.

The Saints fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half, and Tennessee wasted no time. A Tannehill pass to Marcus Johnson put the Titans at the goalline, and Tannehill cashed in with touchdown pass to MyCole Pruitt. Very quickly, a tie game turned into a 20-6 game.

New Orleans was faced with a must answer situation, and that’s exactly what they did. An 11-play drive went 80+ yards, as Mark Ingram took a toss play to the endzone. However, Saints kicker Brian Johnson missed the extra point again, keeping the score at 20-12.

Tennessee found their own answer with a huge screen play to D’Onta Foreman. It was a fake look to A.J. Brown, and Foreman accelerated all the way into the redzone, putting the Titans in position to strike once again. But the Saints held when it mattered the most, forcing a field goal attempt from Randy Bullock.

His third attempt of the day was good, which gave the Titans a two-score lead at 23-12.

Needing to work quickly, Siemian went right back to work. He found Mark Ingram on a wheel route for a huge chunk, then hit Juwan Johnson to work inside of the five. But the Tennessee front held, making a few big plays to keep the Saints out of the endzone. New Orleans took the three points, cutting the Titans’ lead down to 23-15.

The Saints gave up one first down on the next drive, but got the stop they needed with 3:41 to play. This game was now on the shoulders of the Tennessee defense.

Siemian quickly hit a big play to Marquez Callaway, jumpstarting a potential game-tying drive. He found another big play, hitting Deonte Harris to move inside of the redzone. A couple of plays later, Siemian found Callaway in the endzone to pull within two points

A 23-21 score meant that the Saints needed a two-point conversion now to tie, after two missed extra points earlier in the game. A false start would back them up to the seven — and Siemian’s pass attempt to Mark Ingram fell incomplete.

The Titans held on for dear life, but improved to 8-2 overall with a 23-21 win.

Tennessee will host the Texans next week.