In a rare Week 17 game that was meaningless for the Titans, Mike Vrabel took full advantage. Derrick Henry, Jeffery Simmons, Denico Autry and several other were inactive, resting up for next week’s AFC South championship matchup in Jacksonville against the Jaguars.
The winner of the Titans-Jaguars game next Sunday will capture the AFC South crown and head to the playoffs, set to host a first round game.
However, the Titans still had to play a game tonight, and it went about like you would expect. Vrabel opted to start Josh Dobbs instead of rookie Malik Willis, who had been filling in for the injured Ryan Tannehill. The move gave the Titans a chance to see Dobbs in action, just one week ahead of the season-defining matchup against the Jaguars.
It was a borderline preseason game for Tennessee, but the Titans came out and fought in the first half. Dallas opened with an Ezekiel Elliott touchdown, and followed that up with a field goal.
The Titans faced a 10-0 deficit, but Kevin Byard wasn’t interested in just rolling over tonight. Two first-half interceptions gave the Titans a spark, and his efforts led to two field goals to keep Tennessee in the game early on.
Dallas took a 10-6 lead into the halftime break.
Dobbs actually looked solid to start, but drops hurt his efforts. Still, big plays to Racey McMath and Treylon Burks were positive signs going forward. Dobbs threw for 143 yards in the first half, adding 12 yards on the ground without Henry available.
The drops continued to open the second half, as Treylon Burks dropped an easy one that would have converted a third down.
The Cowboys were able to capitalize on a Tre Avery defensive pass interference call to go up 17-6. Dak Prescott found Dalton Schultz to score, just two plays after the Titans were set to get off of the field on a 3rd and 19. It was a game-changing moment, one that put Dallas back in full control.
But Dobbs wasn’t done. He came back with an answer, hitting a handful of key throws to push the ball down the field. He found Robert Woods for a touchdown, cutting the lead down to 17-13 with 2:04 to play in the third quarter.
. @josh_dobbs1 ➡️ @robertwoods— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) December 30, 2022
: Watch #DALvsTEN on @NFLonPrime pic.twitter.com/EwBAONZSeb
A big play to T.Y. Hilton on third down and a couple of chunk plays from Malik Davis had the Cowboys ready to answer, however. And that’s just what they did. Prescott found Schultz once again in the endzone for another score, giving them an 11 point advantage at 24-13.
The following drive for the Titans came up empty, and time was running thin. The Cowboys would add a field goal to make it 27-13 with six minutes to play. Dobbs was picked off a couple of snaps later.
Dallas cruised from there.
Final Score: Cowboys 27, Titans 13.
The Titans lost tonight, but may have found their answer at quarterback for next week. They’ll travel to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars, playing for the AFC South title. Win, and they’re in — and after tonight, Josh Dobbs has to be under center. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Dobbs tonight, but he did give the passing game a need spark — something that Willis pretty clearly isn’t ready to do just yet.