Does it feel good to watch the Titans play well or what? After a special teams mistake and a couple of pedestrian drives, the Titans kicked it into high-gear towards the end of the second quarter and convincingly took down the Dolphins 30-17.
The Titans opened the scoring towards the end of the first quarter. The scoring drive began with a long Delanie Walker reception, then three straight successful DeMarco Murray runs. On the scoring play, Marcus Mariota bootlegged to the right side and scored easily on a five yard designed quarterback run.
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On the Titans next drive, a Brett Kern punt was returned for a touchdown by electrifying Jakeem Grant. A week after firing special teams coach Bobby April, this wasn’t exactly a reassuring sign that he was the problem and that our special teams woes are behind us. The coaching staff really needs to iron out the special teams kinks because they are costing this team dearly.
The Titans offense quickly responded with a 12 play, 76 yard scoring drive. They ran the ball on 10 of the 12 plays, alternating DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry and running the ball down the Dolphins defense’s throat. On the final play of the drive, Mariota found Andre Johnson in the middle of the end zone for an easy five yard score.
The Dolphins would answer right back, with a four yard Jay Ajayi rushing touchdown. The drive was aided by a 58 yard reception from backup running back Daimien Williams. The long reception was allowed because of poor angles and poor tackling.
With exactly two minutes to go in the first half, the Titans offense ran hurry-up and simplified the play calls. It’s been apparent that the Titans offense is at its best during these types of situations. Mariota didn’t miss a pass and used his legs for a 21-yard scramble on the drive, and linked up with Walker on a 20 yard touchdown pass with just 47 seconds left in the half.
The second half was total domination from the defense. They intercepted Ryan Tannehill on the first drive of the half and held the Dolphins to just three points in the entire half. The amount of pressure the Titans generated was extremely worrisome for the Dolphins offensive line, and it forced plenty of sacks and pressured incompletions.
On the back of a strong defensive performance, the Titans rode the ground game and tore up the Dolphins with 235 total rushing yards. Mariota only threw for 163 yards, but did so on 20-29 passing and got three touchdowns through the air. He added 60 yards on the ground of his own, showing off the speed that made him so valuable in college. I hope that we’ll see more of that in the games to come.
Titans fans should feel pretty good about the team after that performance. Yes, they played a bad Dolphins team, but they outplayed them and dominated them as they should have. With the Houston Texans not looking great, the Indianapolis Colts not looking good, and the Jacksonville Jaguars being the Jags, the Titans could be in the division fight for the long haul if they play like this.