The Tennessee Titans (2-0) are in Minnesota today to take on the winless Vikings (0-2) with kickoff set for 12 p.m. Central Daylight Time.
The Titans hope to stay undefeated while taking advantage of a depleted Vikings defense, but a reeling team is a dangerous team. 0-2 is desperation time.
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Let’s get ready for some football!
The Titans are on the field warming up now.
The Vikings won the toss and kicked off to Tennessee, who got things started with a big throw off play action from Ryan Tannehill to Kalif Raymond for 44 yards. A batted pass on 3rd down from the 21-yard line (which Tannehill caught but did not advance beyond the line of scrimmage) led to a Stephen Gostkowski field goal, which he of course nailed with no problem. An early 3-0 lead with 11:44 left in the first quarter.
The Vikings began their first drive with a short run by Dalvin Cook, stopped from behind by Kenny Vaccaro and Jadeveon Clowney. Jayon Brown sniffed out a screen on second down, and Jeffrey Simmons beat Dru Samia on third down to bring down Kirk Cousins for the sack. Vikings punted back to Tennessee.
On the Titans’ ensuing possession, mistakes undid what could’ve been a productive drive. Tannehill just missed Jonnu Smith on a wheel route up the sideline (who appeared to hesitate briefly for some reason), and then a bad snap led to a 4th-and-long punt.
Immediately following a nice first-down run by Cook, the Vikings running back lost the handle as he went to the ground, with the ball hitting square on his teammate’s helmet and popping free. Rashaan Evans picked it up and returned it to the Vikings’ 20, setting up the Titans with great field position.
Derrick Henry ran for seven yards, but back-to-back incompletions looking for Smith and Adam Humphries brought Gostkowski out for his second attempt. No one doubted his ability to split the uprights, which he did again to double the Titans lead, 6-0.
On the next Vikings’ possession, Tennessee’s defense reverted to its soft play from the week prior. Cook had a few nice gains mixed in with a couple catches by rookie receiver Justin Jefferson. Then, Cook burst through the line with a number of Titans chasing hopelessly as he ran for a 39-yard touchdown to put the Vikings ahead 7-6.
Raymond returned the kickoff out near the 30, and Tannehill hit him with a bullet over the middle on the following play. Rookie Darrynton Evans, making his Titans debut this week, took his first two NFL carries and on the second, star left tackle Taylor Lewan got banged around in a pile and remained on the ground for several minutes, clearly in pain. Lewan finally sat up and was helped off the field, with Ty Sambrailo in at left tackle to take his place.
A Henry run right before Corey Davis’s 25th consecutive catch for either a first down or touchdown — the longest active streak in the NFL — took us to the end of the first quarter with the Titans threatening.
End 1Q — Titans 6, Vikings 7
On the first play of the second quarter, Tannehill looked deep for Nick Westbrook-Ikhine but floated the ball a little too much. Stud safety Harrison Smith picked off the ball for Tannehill’s first interception and the Titans first turnover committed this season.
The Vikings were able to move the ball slowly but surely to midfield when Jefferson hauled in a nice contested catch with Malcolm Butler all over him for 33 yards, and on the next play, Cousins rolled out and hit Adam Thielen in the back corner of the end zone for a 16-yard score. Vikings extended their lead, 14-6.
After a rough start to their next drive, Tannehill found Humphries just short of the first down on 3rd and 14 (initially ruled a catch but challenged successfully by Mike Zimmer), and Tennessee kept the offense out there for 4th and 1 from their own side of midfield. Henry dove over the pile and just gained the first down by the nose of the ball. A couple plays later, a 24-yard completion to Humphries set the Titans up in the red zone, but another stalled drive resulted in Gostkowski’s 3rd field goal of the half. Titans cut cut down on Minnesota’s lead, 14-9 with just over 3 minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Jefferson continued to make plays on the next drive for the Vikings, going over 100 yards with his sixth catch of the game. Cook advanced Minesota to the red zone on a catch out of the backfield, but then the Titans defense Titan’d up. Redemption for Malcolm Butler, who had given up a few catches but made back-to-back pass breakups to help hold the Vikings to a field goal, stretching the lead to 17-9.
Tennessee put a few plays together, but couldn’t convert on 3rd down again near midfield. The Vikings ran it into halftime with their 8 point lead.
End 1H — Titans 9, Vikings 17
The Vikings began the half with a horrible interception by Cousins, overthrowing his receiver right into the hands of Johnathan Joseph who returned it for a touchdown. However, a blindside block on Clowney negated the touchdown and gave the Titans the ball at the Vikings’ 41 yard line.
The Titans couldn’t capitalize on the turnover, as Yannick Ngakoue beat Lewan’s replacement Sambrailo for a strip sack that Sambrailo dove on. Brett Kern punted it away, and the Vikings caught a reset on the half starting at their own 11-yard line.
After (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) a big run by Cook, the Vikings drive stalled with the Titans pass rush finally getting after Cousins. A little back-and-forth penalty action (negating a blocked field goal by Josh Kalu) ended with Dan Bailey pushing the 49-yard try wide right. Titans took over still trailing by 8 with 10:15 to play in the third.
Tannehill fired a bullet to Smith to put Tennessee in Vikings territory (Zimmer used his second challenge on the catch, this time unsuccessfully). Yet again the Titans failed to convert on third down, moving to one for nine on the day, and Gostkowski trotted out for his 4th attempt. From 51 yards, Gostkowski was true, trimming the Minnesota lead down to 17-12.
Two plays later, the Titans defense proceeded to give up a 71-yard touchdown to Jefferson off a nice play action throw from Cousins, and the Vikings took their largest lead of the day at 24-12.
The Titans rode Derrick Henry on their next possession. Giving the defense a bit of a rest and not panicking, the Titans set up the play action pass, with Tannehill finding Davis over the middle (another first down reception) for a big gain to put the Titans inside the Vikings’ 10 yard line. Three Derrick Henry carries later and it was back to a 5-point game in Minnesota, 24-19, on Henry’s first touchdown run of the season.
The Titans defense forced a three-and-out on the next Vikings’ possession, with Simmons pressuring Cousins on first down, rookie DL Larrel Murchison teaming up with Jayon Brown to take down Cook for no gain on 2nd down, and finally forcing a short completion out of bounds short of the sticks on third. Titans ball at their own 35, 2:39 to play in the 3rd quarter.
On the very next play, Tannehill found Raymond on a familiar deep post concept off play action for a 62-yard gain (Raymond’s first 100-yard game of his career) and Henry was back in the end zone two plays later (but failed to convert a 2-point conversion). Just like that, the Titans led 25-24, their first lead since 6-0 in the first quarter.
End 3Q — Titans 25, Vikings 24
The Vikings offense quickly moved the ball inside the TEN 30. On 3rd-and-3, Cook surpassed his career high in rushing yards, hitting 161 on the day to move the ball into the red zone. A couple plays later, under heavy pressure, Cousins appeared to throw the ball away into the back of the end zone, but Kyle Rudolph made an incredible acrobatic one-handed grab, barely touching both feet down for the Vikings touchdown. After a failed 2-pt conversion of their own, the Vikings kicked off to Tennessee leading 30-25.
The Titans put together a nice drive with Henry running hard, but back to back ugly plays on 2nd and 3rd down inside Vikings territory led to a Gostkowski’s fifth and longest field goal attempt of the day. He knocked through from 54 yards with 6:31 left and the Vikings holding a 30-28 lead.
Simmons had a monster hit on Cook in the hole early on the Vikings next drive, but the play was negated by a Vikings penalty. Cook took a carry for 12 yards on 2nd-and-27 (after a Kristian Fulton sack) but hobbled off the field after the play. On 3rd and 15, the Titans got the stop and the Vikings punted away; Titans ball, down 2, 3:42 to go.
Tannehill hit Smith twice, Davis once, and Henry carried a couple times to move the Titans up to the MIN 38, the edge of Gostkowski’s range, as the clock ticked down to the two-minute warning. They advanced it only a yard further, bringing out Gostkowski for his 6th attempt of the day, yet again his longest of the contest. Seemingly working up to this kick like it was the final boss battle, Gostkowski drilled the kick and gave the Titans a 31-30 lead with just 1:44 left, Vikings with no timeouts.
Simmons was called for a questionable roughing the passer penalty one play before Clowney barely missed his first sack, forcing a quick throwaway by Cousins. Cousins mishandled the next snap and Landry almost had it, with the Vikings recovering for a loss of 14. Clowney nearly intercepted Cousins on the play after that with Simmons all over him. On what amounted to the Vikings final Hail Mary attempt on 4th and 24, the ball bounced around and landed in the arms of Amani Hooker for the game-clenching turnover.
Final: Titans 31, Vikings 30
For the third straight game, the Titans win on a go-ahead field goal in the final minutes, with the defense making the stop at the end to seal the deal.