5 takeaways as Tennessee Titans buck Denver Broncos

Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean)
Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean) /

The Tennessee Titans earned a hard-fought, nasty, very much on-brand win against the much-maligned Denver Broncos. It took basically the entire defensive roster and then some, but the Titans come away 6-3 in an important conference win.

This was a game that only a mother and under-bettors could love.

It was ugly for many of the expected reasons if you have followed the Tennessee Titans season at all, and add that to the fact that Denver may be the only other offense in the NFL that is as, or more, tragic than the Todd Downing-led Titans.

Let’s get into some things we learned and some things we will speculate on from the Week 10 matchup.

The good and the bad from the Tennessee Titans

1. Is Derrick Henry dealing with something? 

Henry finished with only 19 carries. This is the 2nd game in a row that the league’s rushing leader finishes with less than 20 carries. Henry was in and out of the blue medical tent all afternoon and concern should be growing since the running game is the backbone of the offense.

When asked about spending so much time in the medical tent after the game Henry explained, “I was going to the bathroom.”

Fair enough!

2. The ups and downs of the passing game. 

Injecting Ryan Tannehill back into the lineup was a welcome addition, but he and his receivers had to fight through some rust first.

Until the last possession of the 2nd half, the Titans had gone three and out on 4 of their 7 possessions, with incompletions and drops playing a big role in the stagnant offense. But like they say, the eighth time is the charm.

Thanks in large part to the passing game, the Titans would score 17 unanswered points after allowing a 10-point run from the Broncos to start the game. The beautiful throw and catch to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine reignited the Titan’s offense going into halftime.

After halftime, the Tennessee Titan’s woes are well-documented but that leads me to my next big takeaway…

3. The deep ball and Nick Westbrook-Ikine save the Titan’s offense: 

NWI had to deal with lots of outside noise after his comments after the Kansas City Chiefs game about the wide receiver group’s struggles. Well, he backed himself up this week by hauling in 5 receptions for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Speaking from the perspective of the outside noise, there may have had some pretty good evidence to support the criticism levied against the receiver unit. But following Sunday’s game, I think NWI will be looking forward to his media session with a wide, well-deserved, smile.

The 63-yard touchdown reception was just what the doctor ordered for the offense who was able to, for the first time this season, score more points in the second half than they did in the first half.

4. Penalties are hurting the team. 

The Titans had 9 penalties for 60 yards. These penalties stalled drives and gave the Denver Broncos relief at crucial times. While the penalties did not end up costing the Titans the game, it is concerning given how fine the margin is for the team’s style of play.

They have to play perfectly to win like this. Despite the fact that they have been far from playing a complete game this year, they have managed to keep winning. They could help themselves out simply by limiting the mental mistakes of penalties which are typically not an issue for Vrabel-coached teams.

5. Injuries are piling up for the defense. 

At one point in the game, the Tennessee Titans only had 3 defensive starters left in the game: Denico Autry, Roger McCreary, and Kevin Byard. Elijah Molden went to the locker room after the same groin injury reaggravated itself. Concerningly, David Long Jr. left the game in some pain as well.

All in all, it will be a very tall task for this team to come back healthy for Thursday Night Football against the Packers.

But following today’s big win, they are in great shape moving forward. They have continued to expand the gap between themselves and the rest of the AFC South while it appears the rest of the division is self-destructing (whether they realize it yet or not).