The Tennessee Titans vs Denver Broncos had all the makings of a struggle, and boy did it ever live up to the hype.
The Titans, already missing Harold Landry for the year, were without Jeffrey Simmons, Kristian Fulton, Amani Hooker, Bud Dupree and Zach Cunningham today. However, they did get Ryan Tannehill and Treylon Burks back on offense.
They faced a team that plays in a similar way. The Broncos have struggled in a big way offensively so far this year, despite the deal for Russell Wilson.
Midway through the second quarter, it was fair to wonder if either team would even score. Ryan Tannehill was dreadful, Derrick Henry was bottled up — offensive coordinator Todd Downing had nothing.
Denver wasn’t any better, until they capitalized on a busted coverage. Wilson found Jalen Virgil for the game’s first score. They tacked on a field goal shortly after. The way this offense was going, a 10-0 lead seemed like too much to overcome. Thankfully, things picked up shortly after.
It took an entire half, but the Titans finally found something in the two-minute offense just before halftime. Tannehill worked it inside of the ten, then hit Nick Westbrook-Ikhine for the score. It was a must-have answer for Tennessee, which trailed 10-7 at the break.
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) November 13, 2022
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Downing made up for a dreadful first half by digging into his bag of tricks. A flea flicker put the Titans on top midway through the third quarter, and it was NWI once again coming free for six.
FLEA FLICKER ALERT— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) November 13, 2022
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After scoring 14 unanswered, the Titans led 14-10, and time was starting to run thin as we entered the fourth quarter.
The Tennessee defense — even without all those key players — was starting to take over. Russell Wilson was under constant pressure in the second half, completely unable to work anything down the field.
Denver was forced to punt to open the final quarter of play, and the Tennessee offense had a chance to put this one away. Austin Hooper came up with a huge catch and run to get the Titans across midfield.
Everything was going great, until Todd Downing brought in Malik Willis to run read-option on third down. Willis and Henry fumbled the exchange, and the Broncos recovered with 7:30 to play.
The mistake didn’t hurt the Titans though, as the Broncos were still helpless on the offensive side of the ball. A fifth straight punt for Denver put the Titans back in control. This time, Tannehill found Chig Okonkwo for a complete field-flipper. The rookie tight end was wide open over the middle and sprinted all the way down to the Denver 20 with under four minutes to play.
The drive stalled, but Randy Bullock knocked through a field goal to make it 17-10 with under three minutes to play.
Wilson had one last shot. He converted 4th and 5 with his legs, then found Melvin Gordon and Courtland Sutton to enter Tennessee territory.
And then — one last time Wilson was sacked. Rashad Weaver got home on 3rd down, forcing one last 4th down chance. And Wilson was picked off.
Final Score: Titans 17, Broncos 10
I feel like I’ve seen this game eight different times so far this year from the Titans. A nasty slugfest with both teams under 20 points, Tennessee with a chance to put the game away late, they blow it, and yet still find a way to win.
Once again, this defense stood on its head today. Wilson couldn’t get anything done after the second quarter, running for his life in the entire second half. The Titans finished with five sacks, and a makeshift secondary flat out got the job done outside of one busted coverage.
The issue, as it has been all season long, remains on the other side of the ball. Frankly, I’m not sure if the Titans have the playmakers to turn that ship around. Regardless, Tennessee is now 6-3.
They’ll travel to Green Bay on Thursday night to face the Packers.