Sep 23, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans corner back Alterraun Verner (20) strips the ball from Detroit Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew (87) during the second half at LP Field. The Titans beat the Lions 44-41 in overtime. Mandatory credit: Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE
The Tennessee Titans hosted the Detroit Lions in an epic battle of Jeff Fisher disciples, but the game itself was far from anything associated with Fisherball. 85 points were scored including touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams. It was an overtime thriller that lasted well in the the late games. There were more points scored in the 4th quarter of this game than any other I can think of, maybe even of all time. The Lions have some serious weapons in Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew, but the guy I had my eyes on the most was runningback Mikel Leshoure. He reminds of Marshawn Lynch or a younger Cedric Benson. The Titans had done a decent job through the first two weeks of limiting big plays, but they couldn’t stop a nosebleed from getting a first down. This game was different. You could see it in their eyes before the game.
The Titans defense came out blazing, they were flying to the ball and the secondary tackled extremely well. Alteraun Verner was sticking to Calvin Johnson like glue while the safeties were looming all over the place. 2nd year linebacker Akeem Ayers had a team high 16 tackles including a sack, 1 tackle for loss and 1 defended pass. It was arguably his best game as a pro. Jurrell Casey had a fantastic game as well, especially on the last play. Casey was the main reason Shaun Hill was stuffed on the final 4th and 1. Many people were expecting Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew to have a field day, but Jerry Gray and the Titans defense were not having that. Pettigrew only had 61 yards receiving. At first glance that sounds like a lot, but consider this, the Titans scored 2 special teams TDs and another TD on a fumble returned by Alteraun Verner. The Lions had the ball for a whopping 40 minutes. In any other game I would be seriously disappointed with that stat, but not this one. This high-potent offense of Detroit was stifled by Tennessee for the majority of the game. Key stat: The Titans held Detroit to 3-12 conversions on 3rd down. That is a complete turn around from the first two games.
And then came the 4th quarter.
Tennessee only recorded 1 sack despite the defense being on the field for more than 2/3 of the game. They have got to figure out how to get more pressure on the quarterback. Mikel Leshoure had an outstanding day considering it was his first game since his achilles injury last season. I understand the Lions have Johnson and Pettigrew to open things up for Mikel, but he was consistently getting 4-5 yards per carry. The Titans allowed the Lions to score 25 points in the 4th quarter. Aside from Ayers’ stupid tipped pass into the hands of Titus Young, I contribute this to the complete change in coverage by Tennessee. Calvin Johnson blew up in the second half because then Titans stopped pressing him at the line. It was frustrating as a fan, and confusing as an analyst. Stick with what is working. The Lions had the ball for over 40 minutes and Tennessee allowed 583 yards of offense, that has got to change. Michael Griffin continued to show poor angles in pursuit, though it improved slightly I still believe he is not capable of laying the wood and separating the ball from the receiver. He missed a big hit on Pettigrew and Johnson multiple times.
I am still confused as to why the coaches spent so much time talking up Tommie Campbell as the third corner and sliding Verner into the slot. What happened, or didn’t happen, that made them proceed in a different way? Overall I like how the linebackers and secondary stepped up and played with a fire that they haven’t had thus far. Can they keep the momentum heading into their first divisional game against number 1 ranked Houston Texans?
My grade: B+
Follow me on Twitter