Prime time. Sunday Night Football. Freezing temperatures, snow everywhere, at historic Lambeau Field. The Titans are playing to clinch the AFC South, the Packers to clinch the no. 1 seed in the NFC.
If that isn’t the perfect set of football conditions, I don’t know what is.
Unfortunately, it was much better for the home team. Here’s how things went down…
The Packers started with the ball at their own 40 after Stephen Gostkowski’s opening kickoff went out of bounds. Unbothered by the snow, Aaron Rodgers orchestrated an opening scoring drive lasting eight plays, sixty yards. Aaron Jones carried three times, and Rodgers hit five passes on five attempts, including three to Davante Adams. Adoree Jackson tripped up Adams inside the five, but the receiver lunged and made it into the end zone to put Green Bay up 6-0 after Mason Crosby missed the extra point.
The Titans were forced to grind out tough yards on their first drive, quickly finding themselves in third and five after a couple Derrick Henry runs. Ryan Tannehill kept the chains moving with a nice throw to Cameron Batson, but a few plays later, the Titans drive stalled. From across midfield, they elected to punt instead of trying a long field goal in the frigid conditions.
Rodgers found a lane to run to jumpstart the Packers next possession, but the Titans defense got the needed stop on third down three plays later. Unfortunately, a late flag came out against Rashaan Evans for illegal hands to the face, giving Green Bay an automatic first down and new life. Rodgers made the most of the second chance, positioning his offense at the TEN 21 but facing a 3rd and short at the end of the first quarter.
End 1Q — Titans 0, Packers 6.
The Packers struck for the end zone on the first play of the second quarter, and off play action, Rodgers found Equanimeous St. Brown all along in the end zone to extend Green Bay’s lead. Matt LaFleur decided to go for two to make up for the missed XP, but DaQuan Jones stuffed Aaron Jones and the try came up short.
On the Titans next possession, Tannehill misfired on third down looking for A.J. Brown. The throw never made it close to its target, with Darnell Savage undercutting the route and intercepting the pass at the TEN 34.
The Packers moved quickly inside the 10 with Dillon ripping off runs of 14 and six yards. Then Rodgers threw a beautiful ball to the back corner of the end zone, perfectly into Adams’ arms for his second touchdown of the half. Packers push their lead to 19 with 10:46 left in the second quarter.
Things only got worse for the Titans. Tannehill was sacked on first down, his pass was tipped at the line and fell incomplete on second down, and sacked again on third down. Brett Kern punted again.
Green Bay drove straight back down the field seemingly doing whatever they wanted. At the TEN 17 yard line, Kenny Vaccaro played excellent coverage to force a third-and-eight incompletion. The Titans blocked the field goal and returned it all the way inside the Packers 10, but it was called back for a mysterious offsides penalty. Moving to fourth-and-three, LaFleur brought the offense back onto the field. Rodgers retreated in the pocket looking for a target, but second-year undrafted free agent Wyatt Ray chased Rodgers down for the Titans’ first sack of the last four games. Still a good outcome for Tennessee, but nearly 80 yards lost in field possession by a poor call.
The Titans took over with 4:16 left in the half and started with a pair of Henry runs. Tannehill then hit Brown again and again to move the ball down the field. Henry ripped off another nice run, eluding a pair of defenders, and the Tannehill found Jonnu Smith on back to back plays. The first went for eight yards down to the GB 12, the next was floated to the back of the end zone. Titans finally got on the board to make it a two-score game with 37 seconds until halftime.
The Packers couldn’t really do anything with their last 31 seconds, and the Titans headed to halftime trailing by 12 but getting the ball to start the third quarter.
End 1H — Titans 7, Packers 19.
The Titans got the second half started with a short Henry run followed by a completion to Brown. Two more Henry runs later set up a third-and-one. The Titans came out in the same shotgun look we’ve seen a few times at the goal line this year and ran the read option to perfection, with the entire defense collapsing on Henry. A huge lane opened for Tannehill, who sprinted 45 yards to the end zone and cut the Packers lead to five.
The Packers struck back immediately. Aaron Jones exploded for a 59-yard run, chased down by Jackson inside the 10. Then Rodgers found Adams, who shook both Butler and Vaccaro, for their third touchdown connection of the night to put the Packers back up by 12 just 4:38 into the third quarter.
The Titans proceeded to go three-and-out, with Tannehill’s third-down pass nearly his second interception. The Titans punted back to Green Bay losing momentum quickly.
The Packers drove methodically down the field once again, with Dillon running all over the Titans defense. David Long made a couple of nice plays to help force a fourth-and-one from the TEN 30, but the defense fell apart and allowed Dillon to take it all the way. Green Bay took a 33-14 lead.
Tennessee tried their best to grind back into the game, continuing to pound Henry. Tannehill completed to Smith for 10 yards on a third-and-seven to get down to the GB 35 as the third quarter wound to a close.
End 3Q – Titans 14, Packers 33.
On the second play of the quarter, Tannehill retreated under pressure and threw it as he was hit. The ball didn’t come out great and into double coverage, the ball was picked off.
The Titans defense finally came up with a big play, with Malcolm Butler getting the ball back for Tennessee. Butler came across the middle to undercut a late throw by Rodgers, restoring the faintest glimmer of hope for Tennessee.
The Titans last gasp was extinguished on a fourth-and-four try from the GB nine after Henry drove them down the field. Tannehill was pressured quickly and forced a bad pass that fell short of the mark. Rodgers hit Adams for a huge play down the sideline, and Dillon punched the ball in for another Green Bay score with 2:25 left in this miserable game.
Logan Woodside came out for the Titans next possession, signaling the virtual end of the game. The Titans just didn’t show up prepared for this one.
Final: Titans 14, Packers 40.
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