Titans 46, Lions 25: Five observations as Titans stay atop the AFC South
The Titans hoped the road to their first AFC South title since 2008 continued Sunday against the Lions with an announced crowd of 13,797 as witnesses at Nissan Stadium.
There was a whole lot of Derrick Henry – again. And Ryan Tannehill and Corey Davis.
And not much defense.
Still, the Titans held up their end of the bargain with a 46-25 victory in their regular-season home finale during which they were 5-for-5 in the red zone.
Henry surpassed his previous season-high in rushing yards (1,540 last season) after gaining 147 on 24 carries as he runs toward 2,000, a feat accomplished by just seven players in league history. He has 1,687 after Sunday's game.
Tannehill was 21-for-27 for 273 yards and three touchdowns, including a 75-yarder to Davis (four catches, 110 yards) late in the first quarter, and added a 17-yard scoring run and a 3-yard scoring run for the Titans (10-4), who reached 10 regular-season wins for the first time since 2008. Tannehill also recorded his first five-touchdown game (two rushing, three passing).
Here are five observations from the game:
Derrick Henry runs strong
Henry carried the load early and often, running for 24 yards on seven carries during his team’s opening drive, breaking his single-season rushing high in the process. Fittingly, Henry put an exclamation point on it with a 3-yard touchdown run, his 15th of the season.
Adoree’ Jackson finally plays
Titans cornerback Adoree’ Jackson dressed for work Sunday for the first time since the AFC Championship Game in January.
Jackson was thrown to the Lions for his first game of the 2020 season. He began practicing Dec. 9 after missing the first 13 games with a knee injury. Jackson played mostly on third downs and didn’t start, but saw his playing time increase as the game continued. He finished with one solo tackle and one assist.
Lions QB Matt Stafford starts after all
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford started Sunday after being questionable most of the week because of a rib injury.
The decision to play him looked good for the Lions (5-9) early. The 32-year-old pioneered a 14-play, 75-yard drive on his team’s first possession, making good on seven of eight pass attempts for 48 yards and a 2-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marvin Jones with 1:38 left to tie the score.
Stafford finished 22-for-32 for 252 yards and a touchdown before giving way to backup Chase Daniel midway through the fourth quarter with Lions trailing by 28.
Third and a long day
The worst team in the league on third-down defense looked worse Sunday, at least to start.
The Titans, allowing teams to convert 52.2% of third downs going into the day, allowed the Lions to make good on their first four. Linebacker Harold Landry prevented it from being five when he pressured Stafford early during the second quarter, forcing him to throw it away. The Lions made good on seven of 12 third-down tries, while the Titans converted on nine of 11 opportunities.
Linebacker Will Compton and defensive lineman DaQuan Jones did team up on one third down, though, the former recovering the fumble the latter forced on running back D’Andre Swift on third-and-goal from the 1 in the second quarter.
The Titans recovered another fumble midway through the third quarter, after winning a challenge that resulted in defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons recovering the loose ball that was forced by linebacker Derick Roberson.
Pass rush still a failure
The Titans began Sunday last in the league in sacks with 14, which is 31 fewer than the league-leading Steelers had going into the day. The Titans didn't improve that number, allowing an ailing Stafford to look a lot healthier than a man with a rib injury should.
Landry leads the Titans with 4.5 sacks, while Simmons has three.
Defensive end Teair Tart got to Stafford early during the fourth quarter but was not credited with a sack because the play was ruled to have been aborted.
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