NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Titans 28 Ravens 12 – Final
I believe this to be the single biggest Titans victory I’ve witnessed since moving to Nashville in 2003.
By popular demand, my thoughts on the game….
1) Secret Weapon – Dean Pees can take a bow for that defensive performance in Baltimore, but it shouldn’t have completely surprised us. Pees went head to head with Greg Roman and the 49ers when he was the Ravens defensive coordinator in the Super Bowl and won… They met again the next season and guess who, yes Pees, won again.
2) Checking The Boxes – If I had a box for every “key to victory” the Titans would have checked them all. Run, the ball, no turnovers, get the lead, create turnovers, no big plays, red zone defense… They nailed it.
3) Short Yardage Defense – The front gets tough when there is not much ground to fight over. Remember the goal line stand against the Chargers? How about in New England? Now last night, the Ravens came in 8 for 8 on 4th and 1 this season and the Titans held them to 0-2. There was no bigger play in the game than that 4th and 1 stop at the Ravens own 45 with the Titans up 7-0.
4) The Other Guys – Not just a fantastic Will Ferrell movie, but one of the things this team is all about. I’ve wrote about how well this team has used the 53 man roster this year, but we saw it again in Baltimore. Kalif Raymond with a 45 yard score… Jonnu Smith a ridiculous TD catch… David Long filling in for an injured Jayon Brown with a huge tackle on 4th and 1… Dane Cruikshank a late pass defense on 4th down… These are not the starts, they’re “the other guys” and they’re all a big part of the reason the Titans won.
5) My Limb Broke – Man!!!! I was so close!!!! I predicted Marcus Mariota would score a TD and he was WIIIIIIIIDE open when Derrick Henry threw that jump pass TD to Corey Davis. I mean he could have punted him the ball.
6) Speaking of that Pass – Huge guts by Arthur Smith to make that call and it was very well designed. First they rush Mariota on the field and get the Ravens thinking run, then they motion him out and have Henry take a direct snap so they’re REALLLLLY thinking run and they fire the Tebow jump pass on them. Really, really good all the way around.
7) On Your Terms – When people asked him how do the Titans win? One of the things I kept getting back to was playing the game on their terms. That meant getting the lead, making the Ravens chase and making the Ravens do what they wanted them to do. Once they went up 14-0 they could play the pass first most of the time and Lamar Jackson found that to be a much different world. On offense it allowed them to throw only 14 passes and pound away with their 240 pound hammer.
8) King Of Post Season – Derrick Henry is rolling. The first player in NFL HISTORY with 3 straight 180+yard games. Most yards ever (379) in back to back playoff games. Most yards ever over 4 playoff games (561). First rushing champion in 21 years with a 100 yard game in the post season. They knew he was coming and they couldn’t stop him. Earl Thomas said the Patriots didn’t look interested in tackling him, neither did he, especially when he got swatted aside. The Titans have hit a point that even when teams stack the box they can run it anyway and if they can get a crease it really sets Henry up for big plays. The big man is rolling and it’s awesome to watch.
9) 160 Yards? Seriously? – Ryan Tannehill has won back to back playoff games throwing for a combined 160 yards. I mean, that’s absurd. He’s thrown 29 passes in those 2 games. Lamar Jackson threw 59 of them!!!! The big thing is when given the chance he’s making the throws that help them win. Something tells me 160 won’t get it done at Kansas City, but I’ve been wrong before!!!
10) Thanks For Staying – When I see the joy on Jurrell Casey’s face it’s a good lesson for all of us. While guys search for super teams, some commit and work to make their terrible team better. Casey played on some bad teams, so did Brett Kern, Taylor Lewan, Wesley Woodyard, Daquan Jones… They could have bailed for free agency. They stayed and now they’re preparing for their 5th playoff game in 3 years and it’s nice to see that commitment pay off for them.
11) Red Zone Champs – Yes, Derrick Henry is a HUUUUGE reason why the Titans are on to the AFC Championship, but let’s talk about that red zone defense. It was one of the worst units in the NFL this season, but in these two victories it’s been OUTSTANDING. The Patriots went just 1 for 3 in the red zone and the Ravens only 1 for 4… That’s a combined 2 for 7 and that wins games!!!! BTW, the Ravens had the 2nd ranked red zone offense in the NFL this season.
12) MyCole My Man – We all know my backing of fellow SIU Saluki MyCole Pruitt. Well, now Buck Reising is on board and has to name his new cat MyCole after that stunning Titan victory. Give little MyCole a hug for me Buck!
13) REVENGE – I played this story up big all week because I think it was big. Our city needed this one and Baltimore needed to know what it feels like. I’ve heard from many of you who are elated and I’m happy for all of you and for the former players who came out of the woodwork on social media… CJ, Kenny Britt, Michael Griffin, Keith Bulluck, Eddie George, etc…
14) Good to Great – Yep, this is pretty great.