JOE BIDDLE: Coach Munchak finally unraveled the mystery - WKRN News 2

JOE BIDDLE: Coach Munchak finally unraveled the mystery, Titans beat Falcons 27-16

Posted: Updated: Aug 25, 2013 04:28 AM CDT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

Well, we finally found out what was preventing the Titans from being all they could be.

As they stumbled and bumbled in losing their first two preseason games, Coach Mike Munchak finally unraveled the mystery.

The media watching practice in training camp gave the players stage fright. Don't believe me? Look what happened after Munchak booted the media out of future practice sessions. The Titans won a preseason game, defeating the Atlanta Falcons, 27-16.

It had to be the media's fault that the Titans were sloppy in their first two pre-season games. They are easy targets for coaches to place blame. It was a genius move by Munchak.

Unfettered by those nosy, meddling media types, the Titans came out Saturday night and played like many fans (and media) were waiting for them to play.

Quarterback Jake Locker finished the first half, having completed 10 of 12 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown. His longest completion was 34 yards and he had no interceptions.

Yes, Locker was sacked twice. One of them was due to him holding the ball too long, but they did not dampen the enthusiasm of taking a 13-6 lead to the locker room at halftime. Locker had a 142.4 quarterback rating, by far his best of the preseason.

"We had three good drives there in the second quarter, and it was a nice two-minute drive at the end to get the field goal,'' Munchak said. "We haven't had one of those, so that was good to see.''

Although Locker coughed up a fumble in the first quarter, it was due to fighting for extra yardage while he was running.

"You have to put the ball away,'' Locker said of his miscue. "You can't have turnovers like that. It was nice to respond and find ways to put points on the board.'' 

Locker started the third quarter, completed a pass for minus-five yards and was sacked for a three-yard loss the next play as the Titans went three and out.

It was at that point that Munchak pulled Locker, who gave way to backup Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Overall, there was marked improvement over the first two games. Even the defense held Falcons starter Matt Ryan & Co. to a pair of first half field goals. They hounded Ryan early and often. He was sacked five times before leaving early in the third quarter.

The Titans defense seemed more active against Atlanta. They got sloppy in the third quarter, surrendering 10 points to allow the Falcons to close within four points at 20-16, heading into the final quarter.

The Titans were more proficient running the football. Chris Johnson ran for 37 yards on 7 carries in the first half with a long run of 19 yards. Backup Shonn Greene added 17 more yards on five carries and Locker ran three times, gaining 22 yards.

Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains had to be pleased with the first half production. With starting wide receiver Kendall Wright sitting out the game, veterans Nate Washington and Kenny Britt had solid halves. Washington had four catches for 70 yards and a touchdown while Britt grabbed three passes for 42 yards. Tight end Taylor Thompson added three catches for 21 yards.

It was a balanced offense, mixing up the runs with precise passing that kept the Falcons defense off balance.

So they head to the final preseason game at Minnesota where they will see if they can keep building momentum going into the regular season where they open with road trips to Pittsburgh and Houston.

They need a similar performance against the Vikings Thursday night. We can only hope Munchak keeps the media banned from practice.

Contact wkrn.com Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

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