By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — The Tennessee Titans return home Sunday from one of the best road trips in recent years atop not only the AFC South, but the entire conference. Their 28-16 road victory over the Los Angeles Rams Sunday night improved their record to 7-2, and was also their fifth straight. This is their best start in 13 years, and it continues a stretch where they have beaten four straight teams who were in the 2020 playoffs, and two of them that were leading their divisions when they faced the Titans.
Offensively, the loss of Derrick Henry is certainly being felt. QB Ryan Tannehill had only 143 passing yards, but had one touchdown pass and another rushing. The Titans only had 194 total yards. Adrian Peterson only rushed for 21 yards in his Titans debut, but he got the final touchdown with a six-yard run that cemented the victory with only three minutes remaining. It was his 119th career rushing score and his 125th total touchdown. That ties him with Walter Payton at number 11 on the all-time touchdown list.
But it was the defense that won this game, with an effort that culminated with three Titans’ players being named co-players of the game. One of those was Kevin Byard. He returned Matthew Stafford’s second consecutive interception 24 yards for a touchdown. The second was Jeffery Simmons. He had three of Tennessee’s five sacks. The third was Denico Autry. The Titans defense prevented the Rams from getting a touchdown until Sony Michel caught a three-yard TD pass with 24 seconds left. The Rams had entered the game with the fewest penalties in the NFL, but that changed in this game. The Rams got flagged 12 times for 115 yards. Aaron Donald was whistled for roughing the passer while Tannehill was throwing the ball away on third down with five minutes to play. The call extended a drive that led to the Titans’ final score.
The Titans next opponent will be the New Orleans Saints, who will be coming to Nashville off a last-minute loss to the Atlanta Falcons Sunday. Like the Titans they’ve also lost a key offensive player as their starting QB Jameis Winston suffered both an ACL and MCL tear two games ago and is out for the remainder of the season.
There remains a slight hope Henry may return by the end of the season, but that is a long shot. Most likely the Titans will have to continue their running back by committee approach.