Tennessee Titans hold off late two-point try to defeat New Orleans Saints: 4 quick takeaways
Here are a few takeaways from the win by the Titans (8-2) over the Saints (5-4):
Titans' pass rush was strong, but coverage was leaky
The Titans, winners of six straight, continued to show that their ability to generate pressure isn't a fluke.
Tennessee had all of their four sacks in the first half, including two on consecutive plays at the end of the second quarter, stymying the Saints’ hopes of an equalizing touchdown before halftime. A sack from undrafted rookie defensive tackle Naquan Jones earlier in the first half also pushed New Orleans out of field-goal range.
Defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons had two sacks, pushing his total in the past two games to five and to 7.5 for the season. Outside linebacker Harold Landry also posted his 10th sack, a career high.
But the Titans’ coverage wasn’t as great.
TITANS REPORT CARD:Just one 'A' for close win over Saints
Saints quarterback Trevor Siemian, a backup in recent years who spent most of 2020 on the Titans’ practice squad, had a strong game: 19-for-34 for 298 yards and two touchdowns with a 104.8 passer rating. On New Orleans’ first scoring drive, a lapse in coverage by cornerback Chris Jackson on the sideline resulted in a 46-yard reception, and cornerback Jackrabbit Jenkins gave up a wide-open 11-yard touchdown.
Messy red-zone play
The Titans went 2-for-5 in the red zone (40%), far below their season average. They had two delay-of-game penalties in the red zone.
Although it resulted in a touchdown, Tennessee's third red-zone series of the game was a roller-coaster. With a first-and-goal, Tennessee was bailed out of a Ryan Tannehill interception because of a questionable roughing-the-passer penalty on the Saints.
Then a false start on tight end Anthony Firkser pushed the Titans back to the 8-yard line, before they moved up to the 1 after a defensive pass interference call on the Saints. Tannehill punched it in from a yard out, which gave the Titans a 13-6 lead.
Dylan Cole took advantage of his opportunity
Linebacker Dylan Cole, playing in his second game for the Titans as a practice-squad elevation, laid a nasty hit on Saints kick returner Deonte Harris to start the third quarter, forcing a fumble that was recovered by rookie fullback Tory Carter. The Titans got the ball in the red zone as a result and scored a touchdown, taking a 20-6 lead to open the second half.
Marcus Johnson steps up
With no Julio Jones for the next three games, the Titans need a receiver to step up as a second option behind star A.J. Brown.
For Sunday, at least, Marcus Johnson answered the bell.
The veteran wideout had five catches for 100 yards, including three receptions for 83 yards in the first half. His 50-yard catch-and-run in the first quarter sparked an offense that produced just eight yards on its first two drives.
AFC playoff chase
The Titans, who entered Sunday with the NFL's easiest remaining schedule, have a 1½-game lead over the Baltimore Ravens (6-3) for the best record in the AFC. They also have a three-game lead over the Indianapolis Colts (5-5) in the AFC South.
The Titans host the Houston Texans (1-8) at Nissan Stadium on Sunday (noon CT, CBS).