The Tennessee Titans did the unexpected on Sunday, winning a football game on the road over the New Orleans Saints 34-28 in overtime. Most experts, including us here at TitanRedZone gave the Titans little change to defeat Drew Brees and the high powered Saints offense in thie match-up, but that's exactly what they did.
The Titans got contributions in every phase of the game and players who had struggled and been counted out even stepped up and made significant contributions to the victory.
RUSHING OFFENSE- A
The Titans rushing offense was perhaps the best it has been all season as Antonio Andrews seemed to embrace the "workhorse back" title that interim head coach Mike Mularkey gave him last week. For the game, Andrews carried the football a career and team season high 19 times for 88 yards. Combine that with @Dexter McCluster's 8 carries for 19 yards and @Marcus Mariota's on run for 5 yards and the Titans as a team ruan the football a season high 28 times on Sunday and it paid off with 112 yards on the ground.
PASSING OFFENSE- A+
Apparently Mariota does everything with style, and Sunday was no exception. The rookie who returned from a two week absence for a knee injury suffered in the Miami loss set single season highs in attempts, completions, yards and tied his season ans career high for touchdown passes.
For the game, Mariota was 28 of 39 for 371 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a quarterback rating of 135.7/ Not bad for a young man who missed two weeks.
Mariota also set an NFL record with his performance. Eight rookie players in the history of the NFL have thrown four touchdown passes in a single game without throwing an interception. None have ever accomplished that feat twice in their rookie compaigns until Mariota accomplished it on Sunday.
The only question is can he do it again and set a major mark for others to follow.
RUSHING DEFENSE- A+
The Titans defense was tough on the Saints running game, allowing just 59 yards on 26 total carries with former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram accounting for 21 carries and 52 of those yards.
PASSING DEFENSE- C+
Bress got his numbers in the pasing game, as he mirrored Mariota in completing 28 of his 39 passes for 389 yards and four touchdown, but threw on interception on the day.
The Titans got some big plays and stops at critical times and B.W. Webbs endzone interception with :06 remaining in the third quarter was a game changer for the Titans as it kept the score 21-20 in favor of the Saints, and left the Titans within striking distance.
SPECIAL TEAMS- A+
The Titans kick coverage units were at their seasosn best Sunday as the team allowed 21 yards on 3 punt returns and 82 yards on 3 kickoff returns.
Brett Kern punted five times on the day for a 46.4 yard average and repeatedly pinned the Saints in tough field position when given the chance.
The only negative was a missed 55 yard field goal by Ryan Succop, who priot to that kick had not missed all season, In fairness to Succop, it would have been a career long and actually hit the cross bar, falling just one yard shy of being good. Ironically, 54 yards is he career long and this kick would have been good at that distance.
Almost everything went right for new interim heach coach Mike Mularkey in his debut as the team's head coach. Likewise almost everything went right for Jason Michael the teams new play caller in his first ever game with that responsibility.
Defensively the Titans game plan was solid, and after some early struggles that allowed the Saints to build a lead, the defense settled in and made key stops down the stretch when the team needed them including one late in the fourth quarter that could have given the Saints the lead and possibly the win.
*NOTE we are adding a special category as is out perrogative in this column*
HEART, DETERMINATION AND PRIDE- A++
This team was down, mired in a six-game losing streak and had been counted out by most everyone. The organization had fired the head coach just five days prior and when it seemed like the Titans could have folded and called it a season, their heart, determination and most importantly pride kicked in and they fought their way to a win.
There are no guarantees that this will ignite a winning streak, but at least on Sunday and for this week to follow, this team has something positive and a good feeling of what they were able to accomplish in New Orleans.