The defense won the game
I’d like to formally apologize to Dick LeBeau. I’ve been critical of him this season, but he and his defense came through in possibly the most crucial game of the season (so far) for the Titans. The front seven harassed Trevor Siemian for the entirety of the game and didn’t allow any easy yards for either Broncos running back. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders ended up having big days, but much of that was due to the Broncos being behind all game and the Titans offense not being able to stay on the field.
In a game where the offense stagnated after a hot start, the defense needed to step up after struggling for much of the year. The usuals, like Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan, did their part. But other players, like LeShaun Sims, Brice McCain, and Avery Williamson, really came into this game with an inkling that this would be their game. And it was. Hats off to them.
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DeMarco Murray is back to full health
After dealing with a toe injury that lingered and limited his effectiveness for several weeks, the bye week came at a perfect time for Murray. He was able to rest and get right for the stretch run. That extra week of rest and rehabilitation showed on Sunday. Murray looked spry and back to his early-season self, rushing for 92 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
Take out the 75 yard run against the Packers and this was the first game that Murray went over four yards per carry since October 27 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Murray rounding back into form is huge for the Titans playoff hopes. With Derrick Henry also becoming more involved, the Titans will be able to control the ball with their two studs and grind out these next three games.
I really hope this won’t be another Marcus Mariota slump
The start to Mariota’s 2016 season was hard to swallow. He was making mistakes, turning the ball over, and not moving the offense. After Week Four, everything changed. Since then, he has played like one of the best quarterbacks in the league, which is one of the main reasons why the Titans are in the playoff hunt right now. But on Sunday, Mariota had his worst game of the season and possibly his career. He didn’t turn the ball over, but he only completed six of 20 passes for 88 yards.
Now, he was facing one of the best pass defenses in the entire league. His receivers also weren’t helping him as they couldn’t get open against the Broncos’ great cornerbacks. I just hope this doesn’t affect the rhythm that the passing offense had established prior to this game. We can’t afford the final four weeks of this season to resemble the first four, especially if we want to sneak into the playoffs.