Titans-Ravens. AFC Central rivals. There’s no love lost between these two squads. The Titans pulled out a huge victory, moving to 7-3 on the season and positioning themselves for a playoff push.
Here’s my account of how it all went down…
The Ravens started the game with the ball, but the Titans defense pulled off a rare achievement: they forced a three-and-out. Tennessee responded with a well orchestrated scoring drive. Ryan Tannehill looked deep for A.J. Brown on the first play, and Marlon Humphrey was flagged for a 39-yard pass interference. Cameron Batson made a couple of nice plays, and Jonnu Smith capped off the drive with a play-action touchdown catch from the one-yard line.
The Ravens moved the ball methodically down the field in response. Lamar Jackson made some plays with his legs to gain positive yards, and he hit Mark Andrews for a big completion over the middle. The Titans’ bend-don’t-break defense came out once the Ravens made it to the red zone, and Baltimore’s 12-play drive ended with just three points.
End 1Q — Titans 7, Ravens 3.
To open the second quarter, Tannehill hit Batson again to set up a third and short, and then disaster struck. Tannehill let a pass rip over the middle while taking a big hit, and the ball had no chance to get to its target. Tyus Bowser jumped in front to pick off the throw and returned it to the TEN 22.
The Titans defense was put in a tough spot, and they came up with another red zone stop. An incompletion on third and goal from the TEN 9 brought Justin Tucker out for his second field goal.
The Titans followed up that stop with a quick three-and-out. Punter Trevor Daniel thankfully avoided a costly error, and the 41-yard punt was fair caught at the BAL 40.
The next Ravens’ drive was all J.K. Dobbins. The Titans defense couldn’t stop the rookie running back. He ripped off three carries for 22 yards to start the drive and capped things off with a one-yard touchdown run. He then converted the successful two-point try on a catch in the flat.
The Titans struggled moving the ball after that. Following a 6/6 start, Tannehill went on to miss five straight passes. The Titans converted a first down on a nice bootleg run by Tannehill, but the drive stalled out at midfield. On fourth down, the Titans faked a punt with Logan Woodside hitting Nick Westbrook-Ikhine right at the maker to keep the drive alive. On the subsequent third down, the Ravens committed a roughing the passer penalty to move the ball to the BAL 26 at the two-minute warning.
Henry and the offense couldn’t break through. With Titans fans everywhere holding their breath, Stephen Gostkowski trotted onto the field to try a 40-yard field goal. He nailed the kick with 48 seconds to play in the half.
End 1H — Titans 10, Ravens 14
The Titans started the second half how the Ravens started the game: with a quick three-and-out. The Ravens responded how the Titans did in the first half; they marched straight down the field and scored a touchdown on a pass to their tight end. Jackson’s 31-yard touchdown to Andrews was the biggest play of the day so far and pushed Baltimore’s lead to double digits. 21-10.
The Titans had a few scary moments on their ensuing possession. Henry was slow to get up and had to miss a play. Corey Davis made his first catch, a 50-yard strike downfield for the Titans’ biggest play of the day, and he was slow to get up. Then Ben Jones had to miss a play, the result of which was Jamil Douglas snapping it over Henry’s head in the wild-tractor formation, leading to a third and goal from the 27. Gostkowski was perfect on his second field goal try, narrowing the Ravens’ lead to 21-13.
Baltimore put a little drive together in response, with Jackson finding a wide open receiver to convert a third and seven. But a few plays later, after barely picking up a first down, Jackson looked deep downfield and found the waiting arms of safety Amani Hooker. Titans take the ball away with under two minutes left in the third quarter.
End 3Q — Titans 13, Ravens 21.
After a 16-yard play to Davis, Henry busted open his biggest run of the day with a 24-yard carry followed shortly after by another for 11 more yards. On third down from the BAL 4 yard line, Tannehill under-pressure throw to Firkser was incomplete. Vrabel brought Gostkowski out for his third field goal try, and the former Patriot was true again. 21-16 Baltimore.
The Titans defense stepped up to get the stop they needed on the Ravens’ next drive. Jackson nearly picked up a first down on an option play but was tackled right at the marker, ruled down short. John Harbaugh challenged the spot and lost, and a false start on the next play brought up a 3rd and 6. The Titans got the stop on a high throw to Andrews.
With 7:43 on the clock, the Titans took over needing a touchdown. Methodically, the Titans worked down the field, mixing runs by Henry with quick passes by Tannehill after Ty Sambrailo had to leave the game with injury. Davis beat Marcus Peters for a 22-yard gain, and then Brown slipped a couple tackles to pick up 25 on a short throw. Facing a 3rd and 10 from the BAL 14 with 2:18 to play — with the game, and maybe the season, hanging in the balance — Brown caught a short pass in the right flat, and with a Herculean effort, managed to break multiple tackles, stay on his feet, and force his way into the end zone with Jeremy McNichols helping push from behind. The Titans got the two-point try to take a three-point lead, 24-21, with just over two minutes remaining.
Quickly, Jackson worked the Ravens back down the field with a mix of scrambles and passes. Baltimore rapidly advanced inside the Titans 30, but there, the defense stiffened up. In the most dire need of a stop, Jackson scrambled around but couldn’t find a target on third down. Tucker kicked home the tying field goal with 16 seconds on the clock. Tannehill took a knee to take us to overtime.
End Regulation — Titans 24, Ravens 24.
The Titans lost the coin toss, so the Ravens would have a chance to end things on their own terms. But the Titans defense stiffened again and finally came up with their first sack to force Baltimore into a 3rd and 17. Baltimore punted, and now the Titans would have a chance to finish the contest.
And finish it they would. Davis made a couple huge grabs to move the ball into scoring territory, putting him over 100 yards on the day. Then Henry dealt the final blow with a 29-yard touchdown run on a cut-back outside zone faintly reminiscent of his long touchdown run against Kansas City around this time last season.
The Titans get the win, reestablishing themselves as a contender in the AFC.
Final: Titans 30, Ravens 24.
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